The European Commission (EU) has provided Ksh. 52.2 million (EUR 450 000) in funding to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) to boost its efforts to counter human rights abuses during the COVID-19 pandemic. KNCHR is a watchdog body that monitors Government institutions, carries out investigations on alleged human rights violations.
This partnership will allow the KNCHR to take up urgent public interest litigation cases that benefit the vulnerable and marginalised members of society in particular. It will also facilitate enhanced public education and awareness programmes through community radio stations and social media campaigns encouraging citizens to report violations. It will enhance technology infrastructure that will enable the KNCHR receive information and analyse it at the click of a button through systems specifically adapted for the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the launch of the event, the EU Ambassador Simon Mordue underlined: “The EU believes that all human rights are universal and indivisible, as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Whether one has COVID-19 or not, whether one is a city dweller in Eastleigh, a woman supporting her household in Wajir, whether one is a civilian who wants to know more about his rights, or a state institution that needs to abide by its Human Rights obligations, Human Rights need to apply everywhere”
The measures Kenya has put in place to curb the spread of the virus, like in many other countries around the world, are necessary. These include social distancing, a dusk to dawn curfew, as well as many support measures such as cash transfer programmes. Unfortunately, in spite of the Government’s best efforts, the implementation of some of the measure have also had a negative impact on human rights, for example the reported cases of police brutality, restricted access to information, discrimination in access to health services, and widening gender inequality and gender-based violence. It is therefore essential that human rights defenders can report human rights concerns and violations as they occur within their localities. The EU support to the KNCHR will help to address all these areas.
The KNCHR has been a long-standing partner of the EU Delegation to Kenya. In 2016, the EU already supported the Commission to empower grassroots human rights defenders through training and mentorship programmes. EU Member States have provided support as well: the Netherlands between 2018 and 2022 is providing Ksh 134.5 million to the KNCHR to enhance access to justice, rule of law and accountability; Germany provided Ksh 7.7 million in 2019 to the KNCHR for the protection and promotion of the rights of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). ‘Team Europe’ continues to support Kenya on human rights, as well as Kenya’s overall COVID-19 response with over EUR 330 million and counting! (EUR 300 million from the EU; EUR 28 million from EU Member States, so far).
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) is an autonomous national human rights institution, established by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act, 2011. The main mission of the KNCHR is to investigate and provide redress for human rights violations in Kenya, to research and monitor the compliance of human rights norms and standards, human rights education and training and campaigns, advocate, and collaborate with other stakeholders in Kenya.