‘STATE OF THE WORLD’S HUMAN RIGHTS’ – EXCESSIVE FORCE AND THREATS TO INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY IN KENYA
Amnesty International (AI) have published it’s annual report into the ‘State of the World’s Human Rights’ in 2017/2018 which criticises the authorities in Kenya for the ‘excessive’ use of force by the police against opposition protesters following the 2017 elections; raises concerns that the ruling Jubilee Party made ‘statements threatening the independence of the judiciary’; and threatened NGOs with ‘closure and other punitive measures’.
SUPREME COURT THREATENED
In particular, the AI report cites verbal attacks by ‘High-ranking members of the Jubilee Party’ on the Supreme Court after it annulled President Kenyatta’s victory in the August elections.
AI noted that a record of telephone calls by one Court judge were leaked to the media leading him to take legal action claiming defamation against the Senior Director of Innovation with the Digital and Diaspora Communication in the Office of the President.
DEMONSTRATORS SHOT DEAD
Also of concern to AI was the shooting by an unidentified gunman that injured the Court Deputy Chief Justice’s driver in Nairobi, a day before the Court’s ruling announces that there would be an election re-run on 26 October.
Kenya’s police also came in for criticism in the AI report.
AI said the police had used excessive force to break up demonstrations by opposition supporters in which ‘dozens died’, of which ‘at least 33 were shot’ when the police used live ammunition.
UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI SHUT DOWN
Demonstrations at the University of Nairobi on 28 September, 2017, led to clashes with the General Services Unit and the subsequent raiding by the police of university buildings and ultimately the closure of the university.
NGOS AND CIVIL SOCIETY RESTRICTED
The AI report drew attention to the authorities in Kenya using ‘legal and administrative measures’ to restrict the work of civil society organisations involved with human rights and governance.
AI highlighted the fact that in May 2017 the Nairobi High Court ruled that the government should publish the Public Benefit Organisation Act of 2013 that, if implemented, would improve the working environment of civil society organisations and NGOs but the Kenyan authorities continued to use the Non-Governmental Organisation Law which restricted such organisations’ rights.