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Kenya Human Rights

As Kenya approaches elections in 2012, the country is still dealing with the aftermath of political violence after the 2007 presidential election, which resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands. In 2010, Kenyans peacefully enacted a new constitution that reformed government structures and strengthened human rights protections and the government began important police and judicial reforms. However, Kenya has still not overcome its culture of impunity. Its failure to hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable led to the International Criminal Court indictment of 6 Kenyans who are now facing judgment in the Hague.

Kenya is in a period of transition with a coalition government formed in response to widespread political and ethnic violence following the disputed 2007 presidential elections. In August 2010, Kenyans voted overwhelmingly for a new constitution which better recognizes and protects human rights, including — for the first time — economic, cultural and social rights. The constitution changes Kenyas political and governance structure, entrenching checks and balances by clearly defining the roles and powers of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. It also introduces a devolution structure to ensure that public resources are equitably distributed across regions. However, the new constitution does not outlaw the death penalty or provide protections based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and imposes restrictions on reproductive rights.

The new constitution provides an opportunity for much-needed legal and institutional reforms, especially of the police and judiciary, that enhance human rights, but implementation has been slow. Exposure of serious police human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions of criminal suspects, led to police reforms and the removal from office of the police commissioner. Yet impunity remains a serious problem. No perpetrators of the post-election violence have been brought to justice, and the national tribunal agreed to as a condition of the post-election political settlement has yet to be established. As a result, in March 2011 the International Criminal Court summoned six prominent Kenyans to the Hague to answer charges of organizing the post-election violence.

Residents of informal settlements or slums lack adequate housing and access to vital social services like electricity, clean water and sanitation. Much of Nairobi's Deep Sea slum burned down in March 2011 because fire engines could not reach the area. Residents, particularly women, suffer from insecurity and are vulnerable to violence due insufficient sanitation facilities and a lack of police protection. Slum dwellers are also subject to forced evictions; in July 2010 police shot dead an elderly man protesting the demolishing of homes and market stalls in Kabete.

Kenya's violations of the human rights of Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are putting thousands of lives at risk. Somalis fleeing violence in their homeland fail to find refuge in overcrowded and dangerous refugee camps, where they live in “open prisons” due to restrictions on their movements. Somali refugees and asylum-seekers in Kenya are vulnerable to official mistreatment and forcible return to Somalia, where they face the risk of grave human rights abuses.

Kenya Newsroom



November 30, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty and Sofar Sounds partner for Write for Rights concert and letter writing event

On Saturday, December 8, human rights organization Amnesty International USA in partnership with live music events startup Sofar Sounds will host a powerful evening of collective action along with an intimate concert experience in New York City. The event, Write for Rights, is aimed at securing justice for women human rights defenders under threat and …

November 28, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty International launches world’s biggest human rights campaign

Women human rights defenders around the world are facing unprecedented levels of abuse, intimidation and violence, said Amnesty International as it launched its global Write for Rights campaign, in a bid to shine a spotlight on brave women who have been harassed, jailed, tortured or even killed for their human rights work. Women continue to …

August 1, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty International staff targeted with malicious spyware

An Amnesty International staff member has been targeted by a sophisticated surveillance campaign, in what the organization suspects was a deliberate attempt to spy on its staff by a government hostile to its work. In early June 2018, an Amnesty International staff member received a suspicious WhatsApp message in Arabic. The text contained details about …

May 14, 2018 • Report

Kenya: Sengwer evictions from Embobut Forest flawed and illegal

The Sengwer Indigenous people of Embobut Forest, Kenya are being forced from their homes and dispossessed of their ancestral lands by the grossly flawed, illegal and violent actions of the Kenyan government, Amnesty International said in a new report launched today. The report, Families Torn Apart: Forced Evictions of Indigenous People in Embobut Forest, Kenya, looks at …

October 30, 2017 • Press Release

Violence, killings and intimidation amid election chaos in Kenya

Heavily armed police are using unlawful force against protesters and bystanders in the western city of Kisumu in what appears to be a deliberate campaign to punish people for continuing to protest amid chaotic elections over the past week, Amnesty International said today.

September 1, 2017 • Press Release

Kenyan Supreme Court annuls presidential election in historic ruling

Responding to the Kenyan Supreme Court’s decision to annul last month’s presidential election and order a re-run, Justus Nyang’aya, Country Director at Amnesty International Kenya, said the following.

August 15, 2017 • Press Release

Attempts to shut down human rights groups in Kenya is unlawful and irresponsible

Responding to attempts by Kenya’s NGO regulator to shut down two human rights organizations – the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the African Centre for Open Governance (AfriCoG), Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes made the following statement.

August 9, 2017 • Press Release

Police must only use force as a last resort in dealing with protests in Kenya

Kenyan police must not use unnecessary force in their handling of any election-related protests, said Amnesty International today amid fear and uncertainty in the country after the opposition rejected the initial publicly announced results.

February 9, 2017 • Press Release

Historic ruling blocks closure of Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya

In response to today’s court ruling blocking the Kenyan government’s unilateral decision to shut Dadaab refugee camp, Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

December 9, 2016 • Press Release

Kenya must reveal why UK journalist held without charge

Jerome Starkey, who has reported for the UK newspaper The Times from Kenya for last five years, was detained on his return from London at 9:45 p.m. on December 8. He has yet to be told why, more than 18 hours later.