REMARKS BY THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE KENYA NATIONAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ROSELINE ODEDE
DURING THE LAUNCH OF THE FINAL MONITORING REPORT OF 2022 KENYAN ELECTIONS DUBBED
DEMYSTIFYING OUR DEMOCRACY
THE FINAL MONITORING REPORT OF 2022 ELECTIONS
ON 26TH SEPTEMBER 2022 AT THE SAROVA STANLEY HOTEL IN NAIROBI
Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning.
Kindly permit me to start by registering our appreciation as the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to each and every one of you gathered here this morning. We thank you for honoring our invite.
I acknowledge the presence of key partners here present with whom we collaborated and worked closely in monitoring and observing the elections. These include:
The Norwegian Embassy who were generously supported the process.
The IEBC represented by their Chairperson Mr. Wafula Chebukati,
IPOA represented by their Chairperson Ms. Anne Makori,
CAJ represented by their Vice Chairperson Washington Sati,
NGEC represented by Commissioner Caroline Lentupuru,
NCIC represented by Hon. Engineer Philip Okundi, EBS,
NPS represented by their Director of Corporate Communications Bruno Isohi Shioso,
NCCK represented by their General Secretary Reverend Canon Chris Kinyanjui, and;
OHCHR represented by Li, Fung, Senior Human Rights Advisor.
I also acknowledge all of you present here as stakeholders with whom we have and continue to work very closely on election and human rights issues.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Kenyan Elections are one of the most important events in the Kenyan political and civic calendar. Held every five years, they offer Kenyans the opportunity to engage in the democratic process by electing their leaders.
Today, exactly three weeks after the Supreme Court of Kenya rendered its judgment on the Presidential Election Petition, we the KNCHR have the pleasure to launch and share the findings of our final 2022 election monitoring and observation report dubbed “Demystifying Our Democracy” with you. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has been monitoring the 2022 Election cycle for slightly over eight (8) months with the main aim of promoting and protecting human rights before, during, and after the General Election.
The Commission has been monitoring the elections since December 2021. 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.
On the whole we find that Kenya has made enormous strides as a country in improving some elements of the election processes while in others it is still lagging and yet indeed, in other areas it has retrogressed. While concluding thus we however find that the election was comparatively, in relation to past elections more efficient and transparent, with fewer human rights violations.
On the positive strides, the Commission acknowledges and applauds the IEBC for putting in place systems that ensured a more robust counting, tallying, transmission and announcement of results process. We particularly applaud the making of the elections results portal public, despite the difficulties, anxiety and suspicion caused by the disparate pace of capturing the returns by the various media houses.
We also applaud the security agencies for carrying out their work in a manner that adequately facilitated the right to vote and be voted for. The Security agencies were very responsive and managed to contain several incidences of violence. They were quite professional and humane in their conduct and response. Their restraint in the use of force is highly commended.
In relation to Special Interest Groups, the Commission lauds the voters for electing an increased number of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities. There is however still need for improvement in the voting facilities for persons with disabilities and older persons.
The report highlights an increase in the number of independent candidates elected. This could mean one of two things; it is either a positive trend indicating that our Country is now enhancing the democratic space and allowing for a diversity of political opinions and convictions where people are voted for on their personal desirability; or it could be an indication that the internal political party mechanisms especially the nominations and dispute resolutions are disenfranchising a large number of aspirants who have no recourse but to vie as independent candidates. The jury is out on the issue.
The report records a substantial drop in the number of lives lost compared to 2017. However other violations such as assaults, intimidation, harassment, voter bribery, and misuse of children in elections are still a grave concern. One particular disturbing observation is the increase in civilian misuse of firearms which contributed to at least 70% of the deaths and assaults recorded. A new phenomenon not previously observed was the violence inside tallying centres which majorly targeted election officials.
Another positive noted in the report, is the level of tolerance and restraint exhibited by members of the public throughout the election process and especially at the very sensitive time of the announcement of the Presidential result. Compared to 2017, there was a substantial drop in civilian unrest and violence as a result of the electoral process and Presidential result. This inspite of the highly polarized campaign environment.
Areas that still need reform and/or attention include voter education, voter apathy/turnout, voter registration, need to ease transfer of vote, training of polling station officials, political party formations and nominations, enforcement of election offences provisions, building trust and confidence in the election process and timelines for conclusion of cases and enacting legislation that affect elections. Approximately over 8 million registered voters did not participate in the polling process, a worrying trend that needs to be probed further for the sustenance of our democracy. The Commission takes cognizance that voter registration exercise was well conducted by the IEBC to increase the number of voters. This positively increased from 19,611,423 voters in 2017 to 22,120,458 registered voters in 2022, an increase of 1,031,645 voters.
The Court's jurisprudence evolved in the 2022 Election cycle as attested in our report albeit some Court decisions being given very late with full knowledge of their impact on the planning and logistics of the elections by IEBC.
The Commission however notes with concern retrogression on the two-thirds gender principle through a High Court judgment that suspended a decision by the IEBC to compel political parties to comply with the two-thirds gender principle in their nomination of candidates. This probably explains the number of complaints in the County Assemblies over the list of those declared nominated.
Allow me at this point to now share our key findings. The Commission through its 150 monitors spread across the country, monitored and documented critical occurrences in relation to the 2022 election cycle.
I wish to conclude by stating that the report provides strong recommendations to duty bearers which if acted upon, will usher in a new dawn ensuring elections are held against a strong backdrop of rule of law, respect for human rights, progressive reforms and a peaceful environment.
I Thank You All.
Chairperson Kenya National Commission on Human Rights