Press Statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the deregistration of NGOs in Kenya

    The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) through the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou and Commissioner Rapporteur for the Republic of Kenya, Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, is closely monitoring the human rights situation in the Republic of Kenya following the general elections on 08 August 2017.

    The Rapporteurs are deeply concerned about actions of the Kenyan Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Co-ordination Board restricting the functioning of certain civil society organizations in Kenya. We are particularly concerned about the Board’s letter of 14 August 2017 de-registering the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and ordering the freezing of its bank accounts and the letter of 15 August 2017 ordering the closure of African Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and the arrest of its Directors.

    We note with appreciation the decision of the Acting Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Interior suspending the actions of the Kenyan Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Co-ordination Board on the two NGOs for 90 days. We also equally appreciate the order of the High Court barring the prosecution of the directors of AfriCOG and freezing its assets.

    As State Party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Kenya is legally required to ensure that due process of the law is observed at all times by all organs of the state and that by virtue of the right to freedom of association no state agency arbitrarily interferes with the functioning of civil society organizations.

    In this regard, the Rapporteurs urge the Government of Kenya to:

    1.     Guarantee that all civil society organizations including KHRC and AfriCoG are protected from restrictive measures, including de-registration that did not follow the due process of the law and could amount to arbitrary interference contrary to the right to freedom of association; 

    2.     Guarantee that all human rights defenders in the Republic of Kenya are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of undue restrictions; and

    3.     Ensure the preservation of the civic space in the Republic of Kenya, integral to its constitutional order.

    The African Commission wishes to remind the Government of Kenya that under the African Charter it bears ultimate responsibility to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are respected and protected.

    Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa

    Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, Commissioner Rapporteur for the Republic of Kenya

    Banjul, 17 August 2017

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      Date: 30 August 2017

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