Advocacy statements

UPR Statement on Kenya

  • Date / 2020
  • Location / Kenya
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 6: Universal Periodic Review

International Humanist and Ethical Union

45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (14 Sept  – 2 Oct 2020)

GENERAL ITEM 6: UPR Adoption (Kenya)

Speaker: Mr. Kio Kinuthia

Thank you Madame President and thank you to the Kenyan delegation for its presentation. I make this statement on behalf of Humanists International and Atheists in Kenya Society.

We are disappointed that the government has chosen to minimize the issue of police violence in its responses to the Review. It claims that abuses of power by the police are justified by the need to fight terrorism. Fighting terrorism is not a valid excuse for the degrading way in which the police in Kenya treat journalists, activists and other civilians.

During the 2017 elections, peaceful anti-government protests were brutally repressed, leading to many deaths and injuries.[1] Journalists were attacked for portraying President Kenyatta’s party in a negative light, and many continue to self-censor as a result. There have been at least 15 police killings since March, with many of the victims coming from lower-income backgrounds. A peaceful protest against police violence in July was disrupted with teargas and multiple arrests.[2] Most police abuses are not investigated and compensation for the victims is unheard of.[3]

Whether the aim is to “fight terrorism” or to enforce lockdown measures, such extreme abuses of power are unacceptable. We urge Kenya to end its tacit endorsement of police violence and guarantee freedom of expression and association. It should start by repealing the Security Laws Amendment Act of 2014.[4]

Secondly, we urge the government to honour the commitments it made during the 2019 Nairobi Summit[5] to make sexual and reproductive rights an integral part of its universal healthcare plan. We call on it to pass the Reproductive Health Bill providing a framework for ending unsafe abortions.[6]

I thank you.


[1] https://www.article19.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Kenya-Free-to-Protest-Article-19.pdf

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/kenyan-police-killed-15-start-coronavirus-curfew-200605184324568.html; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/kenya-arrests-nairobi-protest-police-brutality-200707131517537.html

[3] https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/02/20/kenya-no-letup-killings-nairobi-police

[4] http://kenyalaw.org/kl/fileadmin/pdfdownloads/AmendmentActs/2014/SecurityLaws_Amendment_Act_2014.pdf

[5] http://www.nairobisummiticpd.org/content/icpd25-commitments

[6] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/unsafe-abortion-is-a-class-issue-explains-kenyan-activist-ruth-mumbi/

Suggested academic reference

'UPR Statement on Kenya', Humanists International

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