Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
Nairobi, Thursday June 30th, 2022
39 DAYS TO THE BALLOT: THE STATUS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND ELECTION IN THE RUN-UP TO THE AUGUST POLLS
Pursuant to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) mandate of promoting and protecting human rights, the Commission has traditionally monitored political processes since 2005. In the 2022 general election, the Commission has put in place mechanisms and systems for monitoring the compliance to human rights principles and standards; including the deployment of 150 field monitors across the country.
State of Human Rights during the Political Parties Nominations
The Commission monitored the 2022 political parties’ nominations exercise that was carried out between 1st and 22nd April 2022. From its findings, the Commission noted that all the 29 Political Parties that were monitored, majorly relied on consensus and zoning; as opposed to political parties’ members voting to nominate their candidates for the forthcoming August polls. Owing to this consultative manner of nominating candidates, the Commission has noted a shift in how political parties are conducting their affairs. There has been a drop in campaign activities with most of the candidates leveraging on the political parties’ Coalitions and Alliances campaign trails to garner support.
In its monitoring processes, the Commission continues to document human rights issues and their impact on a free, fair and credible 2022 General Election. The following are some of the documented salient concerns:
- Freedom and Security of Persons:
The Commission has documented the issue of insecurity in various parts of the country including the counties of; Lamu, Garrissa, Marsabit, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Mandera, Nakuru, Turkana and West Pokot. In view of this, the political rights to vote and be voted for as provided under Article 38 of the Constitution; as well as other rights like association, assembly, movement and expression will be greatly impacted if this insecurity persists. The documented insecurity has also resulted in a reduction of campaign activities in the affected areas.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has to date recorded a total of 24 cases of violence, out of which 20 cases were perpetrated during political parties’ nomination exercise and 4 cases during the current political campaigns.
Following a fact-finding mission by the Commission in the counties along the Kerio Valley Belt in the Rift Valley region, the Commission notes with concern that there is an ongoing displacement and involuntary movement of persons out of the affected areas with the potential of affecting the voting patterns; and the ability of the citizenry to cast their votes. The Commission further notes that as the political activities heighten, there is a corresponding spike in criminal activities. At this juncture, the Commission wishes to condemn in the strongest terms possible the recent targeted sexual violence and killings of women in the Bahati area, Nakuru County.
Despite the above findings on insecurity, the Commission commends the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government and the Office of the Inspector General for their swift action in curbing instances of insecurity across the country. Further, the Commission is in the process of investigating reported trends of violence in other parts of the country and it shall share its findings with the relevant duty bearers for timely action and accountability.
- Right to Life:
The Commission is gravely concerned on cases of killings that have allegedly been perpetrated in the context of elections. A total of 3 cases of killings have been documented in Nairobi, Kisii and Baringo Counties. In Nairobi, a man was allegedly killed by civilians in Mathare North Area as he distributed campaign materials in February 2022. In April 2022, in Bombaba area, Kisii County, an aspirant for the MCA seat was attacked in his home by unknown assailants. In May 2022, there was a banditry attack on the border of Marakwet and Baringo East that resulted to the death of a Primary S
chool teacher. As result, the party nominations that were slated to take place in the area could not be conducted.
- Inducement and Undue Influence of Voters:
The Commission has noted that aspirants have resorted to inducement of voters; which is contrary to Section 9 of the Election Offences Act. The Commission has recorded cases of candidates who have been distributing branded merchandise and give-aways during the nomination exercises, camouflaged campaign relief food and open distribution of money during political campaign activities. The Commission has to date documented 149 cases of inducement and undue influence observed in the counties of; Nairobi, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kericho, Kiambu, Kilifi, Machakos and Vihiga. Out of these, 11 cases stemmed from the political parties’ nominations exercise.
- Misuse of Public Resources:
Section 14 of the Election Offences Act, bars the use of public resources in political activities by aspirants and candidates or any other person. The Commission continues to document use of public resources by aspirants and candidates during campaigns, thus giving them an undue advantage over others. Further, the Commission notes with concern the use of government registered vehicles and public-funded programs such as; the Women Empowerment Fund and the Constituency Development Fund in campaigns contrary to the Election Offences Act. The Commission has documented 47 cases of misuse of public resources.
- Special Interest Groups (SIGS):
The Commission has equally received the unsettling reports of harassment and intimidation of female aspirants during the political parties’ nominations and the current campaign period. These ranges from online bullying, physical assaults and sexual violence. The Commission has also documented cases of alleged attacks and injuries to the female aspirants and their supporters.
In relation to gender representation, the Commission still notes that the country will be conducting the 3rd General Election under the 2010 Constitution, without a mechanism that secures the two-thirds gender representation at the National Assembly and the Senate. Despite the proactive attempt by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to compel political parties to adhere to the two-thirds gender rule when submitting their list of candidates, the Commission notes with concern the retrogressive ruling by the High Court suspending the same till 2027.
The Commission has also observed and documented the disruption of learning activities that has allowed school students to participate in political events such as; singing for politicians and moving out of schools to cheer politicians by the roadsides among others. The Commission further notes the potential dangers of engaging children in political activities including violence and exposure to derogatory language exhibited by the politicians. To this extent, the Commission has documented 101 cases of use of children in political activities and disruption of learning activities with the highest prevalence recorded in Nairobi, Kiambu, Kilifi, Mombasa and Nyamira.
- Attacks on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and other Oversight Bodies:
In establishing Constitutional Commissions and Independent Offices, the Constitution envisaged a cushion and independent checks and balances on the adherence to the rule of law. It therefore, becomes a concern when these institutions become targets of both institutional and individual attacks. In this regard, the Commission considers unfortunate the blatant scathing attacks on Independent Commissions such as; IEBC, EACC and other election monitoring bodies. Specifically, it is in the public purview that there have been blatant scathing attacks and issuing of threats to EACC officials for not clearing prospective aspirants due to their non-conformity to sound integrity issues enshrined in Chapter 6 of the constitution.
Recommendations and Call to Action:
Pursuant to the above findings which are informed by the Commission’s monitoring processes, KNCHR makes the following recommendations;
- Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission - To inspire public confidence through continuous updates on the status of preparedness towards the 2022 general election and beyond. Further, the Commission calls upon the IEBC to step up efforts and enhance voter education so that members of the public can meaningfully engage in the electoral processes.
- National Police Service - To continue the efforts of building the capacity of National Police officers in election security management including the dissemination of the Election Security Management Manual for police commanders, and the enhanced training for police officers in crowd control management. Further, the Inspector General, to continue with swift response in containing insecurity, undertake timely investigations and incorporate a rights-based approach in police operations and deployment.
- Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions – To take urgent action to enforce the Election Offenses Act and prompt prosecution and redress of human rights violations and abuses.
In conclusion, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reiterates that the political electioneering process should focus towards the promotion and protection of human rights and that all the institutions charged with various mandates and responsibilities should work towards the realization of the same.
In the remaining phase towards the 9th August polls, the Commission urges members of the public to observe and maintain peace and respect rule of law during the campaigns. By all means members of the public must shun violence and other unruly acts such as; the destruction of competing aspirants’ properties, campaign posters and disruption of rallies.
I Thank You All.
Roseline Odede, HSC
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights