REMARKS BY THE KENYA NATIONAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER DR. BERNARD MOGESA, DURING THE MEDIA SUMMIT ORGANIZED BY THE MEDIA COUNCIL OF KENYA ON FRIDAY, 22ND JULY 2022 AT SAROVA PANAFRIC, NAIROBI.
Ladies and Gentlemen, All Protocols Observed:
It is such a pleasure for me to be here this morning. My appreciation goes to the Media Council of Kenya and Katiba Institute for according me this opportunity to make keynote remarks at the opening of this all-important Media Summit. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights takes great pride in being associated with this Media Summit and indeed the partnership with the members of the Fourth Estate who play a key role during our country’s five years General Elections Cycles.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
From the onset, let me start my remarks by giving a short overview of the Commission’s role in the electoral process. The Commission pursuant to its mandate has been monitoring and documenting elections, referenda and other political processes since 2005 with the main aim of enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights during these critical cycles in our nation’s democracy. In 2007, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights undertook comprehensive documentation of human rights violations as compiled in the report titled, On the Brink of Precipice- a Human Rights Account of the Kenya Post 2007 Election Violence.
Similarly, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights monitored the 2013 Political Parties’ nominations and the general elections; and documented its findings in its reports; Break from the Past and 2013 Elections: Safeguarding Rights.
In 2017, the Commission monitored and documented human rights violations during and after the general elections and published 4 reports aptly titled, The Fallacious Vote, Mirage at Dusk, Still Mirage at Dusk and Silhouettes of Brutality.
The above-mentioned reports which include key evidence and recommendations have formed a strong basis for the Commission to put concerted efforts towards securing accountability for human rights violations and ongoing advocacy for electoral and security sector reforms.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the upcoming general elections, the Commission has set up an elaborate monitoring strategy that covers all the cycles of the elections. That is; pre- nominations, nominations, campaigns, polling and the post-elections. As such, the Commission has trained and deployed 150 human rights monitors across 38 Counties with the key role of documenting human rights issues in the election cycles. The Commission also has in place an Election Hub that analyses the data received from the field using an in-house monitoring system that also acts as its Early Warning Response Mechanism.
Allow me at this point to name but a few of the human rights trends and patterns that the Commission has documented in the political parties’ nominations and the on-going political campaigns;
- Cases of violence that were perpetrated during the political parties’ nomination exercise as well as in the ongoing political campaigns;
- Insecurity was documented in several counties including those in the Kerio Valley Belt and North Eastern. The Commission take cognizance of the swift action by the Security Actors in imposing a curfew and operations aimed at securing peace. The Commission is optimistic that this action will be a positive catalyst to secure the right to vote and be voted for by the citizens of the affected Counties;
- The Commission has documented 3 cases of killings perpetrated in the context of current election cycle;
- The Commission further notes that as the political activities heighten, there is a corresponding spike in criminal activities;
- Misuse of children in political activities is on the rise much to the detriment of their right to education and security;
- Inducement of voters and misuse of State resources is still being documented in various forms including open money bribery, use of government vehicles and resources on the political campaign trail and
- There have been cases of media harassment and intimidation which have been brought to the fore; and as a Commission, we are glad that the Media Council of Kenya has come forth, almost immediately to condemn the despicable attacks.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
As we deliberate on the theme of this Media Summit which is aptly titled: Media and Information Integrity, allow me to reiterate that media relations and engagements have become a pivotal part of communications during the current 2022 electoral process.
The rights provided for in our Constitution guarantee unrestricted press freedom. The enjoyment of media freedom is clearly stipulated and anchored in the Constitution under Article 34 on the freedom of the media and Article 35 on access to information. Freedom of expression is therefore, an enabling right and limiting it in media work means a limitation of other rights within the Constitution and other written laws.
The media practitioners must equally enjoy their rights to dignity, privacy and life. A journalist must not become the target of restraint in the course of their fundamental duties and accountability to the public as they report on the 2022 electoral process. The rights and freedoms of media and journalists are not only secured under our Constitution of Kenya; but also flow from the Government’s voluntary commitments to the various regional and international treaties and conventions that place a duty on the State to protect the freedom of expression and independence of the media.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
During the current electioneering season, there has been increased coverage witnessed across all media outlets, and journalists are expected to work under pressure to deliver news to the public. By and large, the media has succeeded in adhering to the Media Council of Kenya code of conduct and ethical guidelines, that have been provided for their Practice of Journalism.
We are all aware that with the current electoral process in high gear, with just 17 days to go, the media is more than ever before guided by timeliness as a news value. As a Commission, we call upon all of you media fraternity to remain true to your noble profession; and always maintain integrity, accuracy, fairness, and objectivity in bringing facts to the people, especially during the high-stake August 9th polls.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I conclude, I wish to urge all of us to strive to make things different for the millions of Kenyans who rely on the institutions present here today to secure a peaceful and credible general elections. As a Commission we commit that we shall work in partnership with all of you as we strive to successfully implement our respective mandates and play our respective roles in ensuring Kenya, achieves a free, fair and credible general elections.
Thank you very much and I wish you all fruitful deliberations!
Dr. Bernard Mogesa, PhD, CPM
Commission Secretary/ Chief Exective Officer
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights