Press Statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the re-run of the presidential election in Kenya on 26 October 2017 and the need for confidence-building African Union engagement

    The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), particularly through the Commissioner Rapporteur responsible for the situation of human rights in the Republic of Kenya – Dr Solomon Ayele Dersso, is closely monitoring the developments in the Republic of Kenya, in this period leading up to the new presidential elections scheduled to take place on 26 October 2017.

    The Commission is concerned about the deepening political polarization in the country characterized by sporadic unrest, a climate of fear, tension and uncertainty further heightened by the resignation of a Commissioner of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) over concerns of lack of preparedness of the IEBC to hold free, fair and credible elections on 26 October;

    Expressing its condemnation of reports of disruption of the work of field staff of the Kenyan IEBC including allegations of physical attacks and injuries to the staff, the Commission notes with serious concern that the holding of the elections in such highly charged and tense conditions would impede citizens from freely exercising their rights and may trigger violent unrest.

    The Commission is further concerned by reports of excessive use of force by security forces during demonstrations including the incident on 28 September 2017 which left 27 people with injuries, when students were assaulted with tear gas, beaten with wooden clubs, and robbed by police.

    The Commission also expresses its concern about the blanket ban of protests in the city centres of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, which have the effect of impeding the freedom of assembly of residents in those areas and about actions restrictive of the civic and the media space in the country.  

    The Country Rapporteur, reaffirming the imperative of the existence of conducive conditions for the free exercise of freedoms of association and expression and the right to peaceful assembly as a necessary condition for the holding of free, fair and credible elections; therefore:

    1.     Strongly calls on all the political actors of Kenya, particularly the major political parties and their candidates and their supporters, to refrain from statements and acts that fuel tension and incite unrest and violence; 

    2.     Reminds the Government of Kenya that it bears the utmost responsibility for ensuring that all its agents conduct themselves in full compliance with the freedoms and rights of Kenyans as guaranteed in the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

    3.     Urges the Government of Kenya to end the blanket ban on protests, and discharge its responsibilities for ending the use of excessive force by police creating a culture of impunity; and

    4.     Emphasizes the necessity of the African Union’s confidence-building engagement in Kenya and in this regard calls on the AU Peace and Security Council to initiate such engagement with the Government of Kenya on steps that should be taken for ameliorating the mounting tension and normalizing the political and legal environment.

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

     

    Banjul, 23 October 2017

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      Date: 23 October 2017

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