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STATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS IN KENYA

STATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS IN KENYA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Representatives of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (both National and County Governments);
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Representatives from Non-State Actors;
Human Rights Defenders (individuals and institutions);
Development Partners;
Members of the Press;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

1. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights makes this public address on the state of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Kenya on the basis of its constitutional mandate as prescribed under Articles 59 and 249 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. This, aligns with the Commission’s national, regional and international imperatives as Kenya’s National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) charged with the promotion and protection of human rights in Kenya. Indeed, the Constitution and the KNCHR Act, 2011 mandates the Commission to promote the respect, protection and observance of human rights in public and private institutions and generally to ensure a culture of human rights in the Republic, promote constitutionalism and to protect the sovereignty of the people.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; Fellow Kenyans;

2. This Address comes at an opportune moment as Global States gear up towards commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 10th December 2023; the foundational rights document that engraves universally recongised fundamental rights. Nationally, we continue the countdown since the promulgation of the present Constitution, which this year hit its “teens”. Furthermore, it is now more than a year since the third general election under the 2010 Constitution and a decade since the onset of devolution following the first general elections in March 2013. Furthermore, it is not lost on us that as a Republic, we are now of a mature older age, as in under a months’ time on 12th December, we celebrate the diamond jubilee as an independent Republic - Jamhuri day.

3. The Commission is cognisant that this Address likewise comes hot in the heels of the State of Nation Address by His Excellency the President read on November 9th 2023 pursuant to Article 132 of the Constitution. We note His Excellency’s acknowledgment that, “Citizen freedoms and fundamental rights lie at the heart of enterprise and democracy”.

4. Over the years, the Commission has similarly monitored and prepared annual reports on the progress made in compliance with human rights standards contained in the Bill of Rights as well as in the National Values and Principles of Governance enshrined under Article 10 of the Constitution - which largely encompass human rights principles. As the designated State organ mandated to do so under the Constitution and its constitutive Act, the Commission continues to closely monitor Kenya’s compliance with regional and international rights obligations.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; Fellow Kenyans;
I now turn to address the human rights situation in the country as follows:

5. Socio-Economic Rights: Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 guarantees the right to the highest attainable standard of health, accessible and adequate housing, reasonable standards of sanitation, to be free from hunger, to clean and safe water in adequate quantities, social security and education.

6. The Commission acknowledges the Government’s “Bottom–Up Economic Transformation Agenda - (BETA) aimed to spur quick economic growth through the five priority economic pillars of; Agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); Affordable Housing and Settlement, Healthcare; and Digital Superhighway and Creative Economy.

7. On the right to the highest attainable standards of health: The Commission remains concerned that Kenya is yet to attain the desired budgetary allocations on health of 15% of the national GDP in line with the Abuja Declaration. In the current 2023/2024 financial year, the allocation to the health sector as a proportion of national budget is Kshs. 141 billion, representing 11%. Notwithstanding the budget, the quality of healthcare services in public hospitals is grossly wanting as patients are offered sub-standard services

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