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Press Statement:Crunch Time: Six (6) Days To The 2022 General Election and The State of Human Rights

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Press Release:              

Nairobi, 3rd August 2022

Crunch Time: Six (6) Days To The 2022 General Election and The State of Human Rights

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Ladies and Gentlemen;

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has been monitoring the 2022 election cycle for seven(7) months now with the main aim of promoting and protecting human rights before, during and after the general election. To this end, the Commission’s first initiative was to develop and launch a robust strategy back in December 2021 aimed at not only information collection and collation, but also where necessary, offering redress to the citizenry. In June 2022 - thirty nine (39) days to the general election - the Commission released its findings on the Political Parties' nominations; while reflecting on the state of human rights. Todate six       (6) days to the elections, the Commission has been following up with key stakeholders and partners on critical issues that may have an impact on the upcoming 9th August 2022 polls.

The Commission through its 150 general election monitors spread across the country, has been monitoring and documenting critical occurences in relations to the 2022 election cycle. Using the information collected, the Commission has shared with specific duty bearers and instituitions advisories and recommendations on the human rights gaps. Today, our country has less than a week to the 2022 polls, and the Commission is sharing updates on the current status of Human Rights.

The Commission notes that this time round the key actors who play a critical role in the 2022 general election have undertaken substantial preparations in the run-up to the election exercise and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights calls upon all the stakeholders to be true to their respective roles and accountabilities in order deliver to Kenyans a free, fair, credible and peaceful 2022 general election.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reminds all Kenyans that it is imperative to let the rule of law and the spirit and letter of our Constitution be the guiding factor during the remaining three days of the campaigns, during vote casting and after the announcement of the results. It is only through this that the full enjoyment of human rights and funadamental freedoms can be guaranteed.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Six (6) days to the 2022 Elections, the Commission is obligated to highlight the following issues of concern which need to be addressed with the urgency required by the respective actors and duty bearers;

  1. Right to life

The Commission has since February 2022 documented cases of five (5) election-related deaths. Two of these were as a result of road accidents involving vehicles associated with aspirants; while three others died from injuries allegedly inflicted by opposing political factions. This is indeed regrettable since every life matters and this is a pointer for a deliberate action by law enforcement officers and security agencies to be more alert and ensure the right to life is protected.  The Commission also wishes to remind the organizers of political rallies and campaigns of their responsibility to carry out their activities in a conducive environment that ensures the safety of its supporters and members of the public.

Some of the right to life  violation sample cases recorded and documented by the Commission are as follows:

 i.  In Trans Nzoia County an accident occurred on Wednesday 29th June 2022, at Kiminini center , Kiminini sub-county, Kiminini ward. The accident involved the gubernatorial aspirant for Ford Kenya, whose motor vehicle hit a by-stander woman. The campaign motor vehicle was subsequently burnt by an angry crowd.

ii. In West Pokot a lorry carrying over 120 supporters of an aspirant vying for a Member of National Assembly  seat  under  Kenya African National Union (KANU) party was involved in a road accident  at Lomut, Lomut ward in Sigor constituency, West Pokot County on 30th May 2022. The overcrowded lorry was heading to Sigor where the apsirant was to present his certificates to the IEBC before it was involved in the accident at Lomut. Six people were injured and one woman died as she was being rushed to Sigor Sub County Hospital.

  1. Freedom and Security of Persons:

Ladies and Gentlemen on the issue of insecurity the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights recently undertook a rapid response mission to insecurity-affected areas in Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Marsabit County which until todate remain under a dawn to dusk curfew. Indeed, the effects of the long-standing conflict between communities in the Kerio Valley Belt continue to impact the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the local population. Some schools still remain closed, water points have been abandoned, livelihoods have been lost, access to health is a challenge and the administration of public services by both County and National governments have been hugely been hampered. The current greatest concern, is the uncertainty of residents of these Counties to freely participate in the August 9th polls. In some of the affected localities, residents have been displaced and thus relocated from their polling stations while those left behind are apprehensive about their security should they choose to remain and cast their vote.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has recorded and documented sample cases of insecurity and the Commission wishes to share some of them today.

  1. Mandera County:

On 2nd July,2022, in Mandera North sub-county, a United Democratic Movement political party branded vehicle traveling from Wargadud to Banisa was sprayed with bullets by unknown gunmen.  Two local elderly occupants sustained bullet injuries and received treatment at Banisa hospital.

  1. Nakuru County:

On 14th July, 2022, four young men were allegedly shot dead by police at one of the victim's homes in Barut Nakuru West Sub-county. The postmortem of the four young men who were alleged members of a gang. The Nakuru County Commander, stated that the police were acting on self-defense alleging that the victims tried to shoot at the police officers with poisoned arrows during a security patrol in the area. From the police statements the victims failed to surrender therefore forcing the police to shoot and kill. This incident and the insecurity in the area continue building tension and have the potential to affect the residents' rights to vote and be voted for.

  1. Elgeyo Marakwet

On 24th June 2022, police officers from Tot police station joined by police officers from an operation camp located in Kaben location in Endo ward, Marakwet East constituency in Elgeyo Marakwet county went to ambush herders residing in Karekemoi in Kaben location in Endo ward, in Marakwet East constituency resulting in fierce confrontation.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

These are just but afew cases that attest to the fact that insecurity leading to the forthcoming general election has been rife. Such incidents continue to reign in fear among the residents of the affected regions and if not immediately contained, it will definitely hamper their constitutional right of voting and be voted for.

  1. Violence and Assaults

The Commission has recorded and documented cases of pre-electoral violence during the campaign period, with most cases occuring during public rallies. Intra-coalitions and intra-parties candidates’ differences have emerged, especially where Political Parties or Coalitions did not agree on one flagbearer. Through the campaign period, the Commission documented over 50 cases of violence, most of which largely affected members of the public.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights vehemently condemns attacks meted on National Police Service officers by members of the public during political activities as was witnessed in Nairobi County during the chaos that rocked a political rally at Jacaranda Grounds and in Kisii County where a police officer was injured during chaos that flared during the IEBC briefing exercise.

Since the gazettement of the official campaign period, the Commission has recorded 28 cases of Assault meted on both National Police Service officers and members of the public in the Counties of Nairobi, Kericho, Kisumu, West Pokot, Kakamega, Isiolo, Mombasa, Bungoma and Kisii.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. Let me now give a highlight on the conduct of security agents and officers during the current electoral period.

The Commission commends the restraint and professionalism that has been demonstrated by the law enforcement agencies and their officers thus far. The Commission specifically wishes to commend the security officers who controlled the chaotic scenes witnessed in Kisii County recently.The legal framework on the use of force and firearms call upon security agents to make all effort to contain violent situations avoiding fatalities while also making an effort to arrest the perpetrators. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights commends the office of the Inspector General of Police for the simulation exercises on the use of force and firearms carried out throughout the Country in readiness for the forthcoming August polls; as well as the commitment that has been given to ensure the security of all Kenyans is guaranteed during this electioneering period.

However, this role by the security officers cannot be delivered without the necessary cooperation from Kenyans in terms of taking personal responsibility and accountabilty.  The Commission thus reminds memebers of the public that as they demand for their right to security, they must know that they too have a responsibility to uphold security by following the laid down procedures and the law.

  1. Threats, Harassment & Intimidation:

The Commission has documented 44 cases of threats, harassment and  intimidation reported from the monitoring of inflammatory speech on political platforms and the media. Such utterances if unchecked have the probable cause of disfranchising people their constitutionally-guaranteed rights by creating fear amongst voters and threatening peace and stability.

There is also an emerging trend on social media where online platforms are being used to advance hate messages  targeted on political players. These online platforms have also been used to advance online violence against special interest groups (SIGs); for instance women which has an adverse effect on the right to vote and the right to be voted for as provided under Article 38 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

This is a worrying concern and the Kenya National Commission calls upon all Kenyans to exercise caution during this crunch time as the country prepares for the 9th of August polls.

  1.  Inducement and Undue Influence of Voters:

Inducement and Undue Influence of voters has the probable effect of influencing the autonomy of a voter to exercise free will to attend, participate or refrain from attending political activities or voting.  During the official campaign period to date  the Commission has recorded 73 cases of inducement and undue influence observed in the counties of Nairobi, Bungoma, Isiolo, Kakamega, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kirinyaga, Kisumu, Kwale, Meru, Migori, Mombasa , Nakuru, Nandi, Nyamira, Nyeri, Samburu, Siaya, Uasin Gishu, Wajir and West Pokot.

  1.  Misuse of Public Resources:

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Following the Commission’s last month’s briefing on this subject, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights continued to monitor the use of public resources and personnel during the campaign period. This has continued unabated in political activities at both the national level and county governments. This gives incumbents an unfair advantage over the other candidates. The Commission entreats the institutions tasked with the mandate to ensure compliance with the law to act promptly and enforce compliance as the country gears up for next week’s polls. So far, the Commission has documented 44 cases of misuse of public resources during the period.

  1. Use of Children During Campaigns:

This is yet another misgiving that the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights highlighted in its last brief; and I hasten to add that the Commission condemns this worrying trend where children, though not voters are used in campaign meetings. The recent enactment of the Children Act, 2022  provides for the protection of the dignity of the child by calling upon every person to exercise conscience and ensure the best interest of the child is upheld at all times.

So far the Commission has documented 146 incidences in which children have been appearing in political activities. The use of children in political rallies not only endangers them but also exposes them to the ills of political violence, foul language and uncouth practices. 

  1.  Misuse of Social Media:

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights continues to monitor the use of social media and digital platforms and has noted with concern the increase in abuse of these platforms by various politicians, supporters, leaders and the public both young and old. The Commission has documented instances of cyber-bullying and will recommend formal actions against such perpetrators. The Computer and Cybercrimes Bill of 2017 has had a varied reception by the Kenyan public. It has been mostly welcomed as an important countermeasure against the alarming incidences of cybercrime in the country and as a key step in securing Kenya's fledgling digital space.

10. Access to Campaign Venues:

Ladies and Gentlemen;

The Commission is alive on the on-going conversations around this subject as our country enters the final stretch leading to 2022 General Election.  In exercising the non-discrimination principles in the use of public facilities, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has been following media reports on biased access of public campaign venues to different political outfits which might be a tool to instigate violence and threaten peace and stability especially where different political outfits clash for the same campaign venue. The Commission calls upon the relevant authorities to exercise a human rights-based approach in addressing this issue.

11. Leadership and Integrity:

The Commission commends the Judiciary in its efforts to reaffirm Chapter six of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and acknowledges the Supreme Court judgment in the  Petition number 11 (E008) of 2022 which was impactful in reaffirming Chapter six of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, especially the provisions of Article 75(3) in the run-up to the 2022 general elections. This judgment will inform the decision by IEBC to undertake the process of the candidate registration certificate and clearances.

The respect for constitutionalism must be observed not just in election cycles but in everyday governance and the Commission will work with all stakeholders and partners as it live up to its mandate of monitoring human rights compliance in all spheres.

 

12. Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC):

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights commends the IEBC for the efforts it has put in place thus far, to promote civic education and awareness through voter information for the 2022 general elections. In its preparedness efforts to ensure the country achieves the general principles for the electoral system provided for under Article 88 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the IEBC should ensure it encompasses a proper communication strategy to boost public trust in the electoral process.

While the Commission acknowledges the concerns raised by various entities, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights urges that dissenting voices embrace closed-door dialogue before using the court of public opinion where misconstrued information can lead to public discord and further curtail the enjoyment of human rights.  

 

13. Post Poll Scenarios:

The Commission is optimistic that there shall be a smooth transfer of power post 9th General Election with leaders from all political divides agreeing to the outcome of the polls. However, based on the history of our nation, the divisive and highly competitive politics that the country is currently witnessing, and the Commission's own analyses of the hotspots across the country, there is a likelihood that in strongholds of some of the candidates who will lose in the 2022 General Election, disgruntlement and civil unrest might ensue especially if the leaders refuse to accept the results. If not handled well, the same can result in yet another cycle of post-election violence with women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons bearing the brunt.  The Commission, therefore, calls on sufficient contingency measures by all actors including the Inspector General of Police to deploy additional security to these areas and swiftly, in line with human rights principles and standards, contain any such incidences before they escalate. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights further calls on the political leaders to conduct themselves within the confines of the law and where there is a dispute channel them to the Courts and respect the decisions rendered as well as rally their supporters to uphold peace.

 

14. The KNCHR Human Rights and Accountability Charter:

Ladies and Gentlemen;

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights prepared and shared a Human Rights and Accountability Charter which spelt out the roles and responsibilities of the Presidential aspirants in the promotion and protection of human rights during and after the electioneering period. While the Commission made all the efforts to meet with all the Presidential Candidates in the signing of the Charter, only one candidate signed and this begs the question of commitment to respect, protection and promotion of human rights of the soon-to-be elected leaders.    

In conclusion, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights calls for all leaders and actors to ensure that;

  1. There is utmost adherence and respect for the electoral laws and processes. Further, the Commission reminds every Kenyan to ensure that they maintain peace and order during the remainder of the 6 days to the August, 9th General Election.

The right to vote and be voted for is an individual right that cannot be exercised or delegated on ones behalf by another person. Therefore, the Commission reminds all Kenyans that they have an obligation to participate in elections and vote for the leaders of their choice and determine the leadership of this country for the next five years.

  1. The IEBC and other stakeholders should continue with voter educational messages to empower all Kenyans to exercise their universal suffrage rights. This will among other things help in reducing the number of spoilt votes which accounted for about 3.6% of the total votes cast in 2017 elections.
  1. The Commission acknowledges the efforts by the IEBC to publicize the 2022 voter register to ensure this critical document is made more accessible for ease of scrutiny by the voters and observers. However, the entire voter register needs to be published online as per section 6A 3(b) of the Election Act.
  1. Political Party agents' role is well defined in the Electoral laws and as such, the Commission reminds all the candidates vying for various elective posts to empower their agents and guide their voters in doing the right thing and ensuring the rule of law is upheld at all times.
  2. The Commission is all aware that with the current electoral process in high gear, with just 6 days to go, the media is more than ever before guided by timeliness as a news value. As a Commission, we call upon all the media fraternity to remain true to their noble profession; and always maintain integrity, accuracy, fairness, and objectivity in bringing facts to the people, especially during the high-stake August 9th  polls.
  1. The politicians need to tone down on ethnic and political rhetoric at these last days that can trigger unrest and escalate violence which in turn can affect voting patterns.

In conclusion Ladies and Gentlemen;

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights will be upscaling its monitoring efforts by releasing over 100 staff to join the Commissions field monitors beginning next week to ensure that the political environment is ready for the August 9th polls. We are all desirous that the current peaceful environment carries the day during and after the General Elections. The Commission continues to urge members of the public to reach out to the Commission through our toll free hotline number 0800 720627 and SMS number 22359 in case of any unsettling electoral situations.

 

I Thank You All.

 

Roseline Odede, HSC

Chairperson

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

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