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

December 16, 2020 • Press Release

Governments and Police Must Stop Using COVID-19 Pandemic as Pretext for Abuse

Abusive policing and excessive reliance on law enforcement to implement COVID-19 response measures have violated human rights and in some instances made the health crisis worse, Amnesty International said today.

December 9, 2019 • Press Release

Generation Z Ranks Climate Change Highest as Vital Issue of our Time in Amnesty International Survey

Climate change leads as one of the most important issues facing the world, according to a major new survey of young people published by Amnesty International today to mark Human Rights Day.

January 16, 2019 • Press Release

Amnesty Statement on the attack of Dusit D2 Hotel and Office Complex, Nairobi

Amnesty International Kenya joins other Kenyans and persons of good will around the world in expressing shock and outrage at the attacks that deliberately targeted and caused damage to lives …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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.

URGENT: Children seeking asylum in the U.S. are being denied their human rights based on their nationality — help ensure that all girls and boys fleeing violence can seek safety.