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JOINT COMMUNIQUE ON THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DIALOGUE  HELD ON THE 19TH OF OCTOBER 2023

This is the joint communique of the National Human Rights Dialogue meeting chaired jointly by the Office of the Attorney-General and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), with the support of the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR)

  • 26 October 2023
  • Author: Samson Omondi
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JOINT COMMUNIQUE ON THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DIALOGUE  HELD ON THE 19TH OF OCTOBER 2023

This is the joint communique of the National Human Rights Dialogue meeting chaired jointly by the Office of the Attorney-General and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), with the support of the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR)


1. Today, 19 October 2023, we held the national human rights dialogue meeting with the aim of discussing regional perspectives on national action and engaging stakeholders in the formulation of a national human rights strategy. This meeting comes at a time when we have successfully concluded eight (8) regional human rights dialogues held in Western Kenya, North Rift, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Garissa, Mombasa, and Wajir regions. Internationally, this meeting is held as part of the Human Rights 75 Campaign spearheaded by the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights which is geared towards commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This meeting reflected that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and universality and indivisibility of all human rights, for all, without discrimination.


2. At the meeting, the Office of the Attorney-General, KNCHR, and partners, particularly the OHCHR as well as state human rights agencies       including the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), the Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ), Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), the National Police Service (NPS), the Kenya Prisons Service (KPS), the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), the Judiciary, Department of Children Services together with the State Law Office revitalized their common agenda and renewed their commitment to upholding human rights, strengthening the rule of law and good governance in line with international human rights law and respective regional legal and policy framework on human rights and democracy.


3. We commend communities and human rights defenders who took part in the eight (8) regional Human Rights Dialogues which is a clear manifestation of their passion for human rights promotion as well as unswerving commitment to the defense of human rights in the country. The dialogue forums proved to be powerful platforms of engagement on the dire state of human rights in the respective regions where the hits and misses of the administrations in the country were discussed and valuable experiences on specific human rights issues were shared among participants.

4. We acknowledge the challenges facing the promotion of human rights promotion and protection in the country which have been discussed here and call for measures to address them. Budgetary constraints to constitutional commissions and human rights institutions in the country to expand presence in the counties, declining socio-economic entities undermined mostly by high taxation regime in the country as well as governance and integrity challenges continue to hamper the realization of human rights in the country. The increase in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic violence, restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms, in particular, freedom of expression and assembly, police brutality, evictions, as well as insecurity are of particular concern. We refer to the inequalities and upholding non-discrimination and equal enjoyment of rights by all. We urge the current administration and concerned government agencies to improve funding to respective bodies and ensure the rule of law as immediate measures required in the promotion and protection of human rights in this context.


5. We take cognizance of the fact that this is the first National Human Rights dialogue under the new Kenya Kwanza Coalition administration, and in  line with its public declarations to abide by the tenets of the constitution and rule of law, urges the current administration to lay emphasis on Human Rights as the foundation of good governance. In this spirit, we urge for concrete progress towards the review, ratification, domestication, and implementation of international human rights norms and standards that have been part of the recent public discourse in the country especially the abolition of the death penalty, addressing enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings, and the respect for sexual minority rights in Kenya.


6. We take note of the urgent need to review the National Action Plan for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country which was adopted by the Cabinet in 2014 and has been under implementation for five years. The Plan is due for review and with this meeting, that process has been kick-started.


7. On the issue of human rights-based programming in the country, we underline the need to promote processes that would strengthen human rights education, the rule of law, and accountability. The state as the main duty bearer is urged to fund civic education across the country and support human rights-based development in all government-supported programs.


8. On the ongoing national dialogue committee bipartisan talks which are likely to lead to constitutional amendments, we welcome the talks as well as the atmosphere of public calm that has ensued in the country. However, we urge the political players involved to ensure no derogation to the constitutional commitment for human rights-based governance in the country and as such plead with parties to at all times uphold the basic structure doctrine and integrity of the Constitution in the process. We urge close collaboration with the parties to explore concrete ways for further engagement in the promotion of the work of the civil society sector in the country as well as human rights defenders working for the protection and promotion of these fundamental rights.


9. Finally, we renew their commitment to the importance of having regular exchanges, at both technical and non-technical levels, to facilitate the implementation of the commitments made and take forward priorities identified during the Dialogue, as part of the development of the new National Policy and Plan of Action on Human Rights, and Kenya’s engagement with international human rights mechanisms. We urge the current administration to prioritise illicit financial flows, corruption, climate change, and human rights.


Issued at Nairobi on 19th October 2023


Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
Office of the High Commission on Human Rights

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