By: STELLA CHERONO
Kenya conceded before Africa’s top human rights body that corruption was a major setback in upholding human rights and dignity in the country.
The admission comes just a day after the country was put on the spot over violation of human rights during the ongoing 57th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul, The Gambia.
Senior Deputy Solicitor General, Maryann Njau Kimani, while presenting Kenya’s report at the forum, said inadequate resources and terrorism were also hindering the actualisation of the constitutional, legal and administrative measures to guarantee rights.
“In admitting our challenges we welcome and encourage other stakeholders; civil society organisations, other African states and the international community as a whole to work with Kenya towards full realisation of the rights,” Ms Kimani said.
She said the country had recorded considerable improvements in the implementation of rights as recognised by the African Charter.
“The Government of Kenya respects the right to life and has been unequivocal in condemning acts of unlawful killings by the police whenever they are alleged to have occurred.
“Any allegation of unlawful killing is investigated by the authorities and perpetrators are tried and convicted by a competent court if found to have used unreasonable force,” she said, adding that officers are now held personally responsible for their actions if found to have committed an offence.
She further defended the government saying that torture and slavery are prohibited and outlawed in Kenya to safeguard the right to life.
A section of non-governmental organisations and representatives of the human rights and gender commissions who were at the gathering however criticised the government, saying that the legislations put in place were only good on paper.
“The situation on the ground was really bad. There is a lot happening that need to be addressed. The report states for example the abolishment of charges on maternity charges in hospitals but we still continue to see a high number of women dying,” Chairperson of the National Gender and Equality Commission Chairperson, Winfred Lichuma said.
She said the government needs to address the issue of corruption so that hospitals and other social services received the due resources.
She gave an example of the death of a mother, Elizabeth Akala at the Kakamega Hospital a week ago, after she was left unattended for 13 hours when scans showed the foetus she was carrying was already dead.
“The government needs to address the issues of limited facilities in hospitals, the accessibility of services and availability of medicine and treatment. This to me, has not been fully addressed,” Ms Lichuma said.
NGOs at the conference argued that very little has been done to address the issues of extrajudicial execution, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearance.
Independent Medico Legal Unit, which recently released a report stating that it had documented a total of 1,030 cases of torture and extrajudicial execution between 2009 and 2014, stated that the commission should take action when such things happen in a country.
On Monday, the Kenyan delegation will answer questions on the country’s human rights record from participants.
Delegates who will represent Kenya in the discussion include Police Spokesperson, Charles Owino, the Attorney-General Githu Muigai, Kibra Member of Parliament Kennedy Okoth and Ms Kimani.