?Healthcare is key right for public, report says

A new survey suggests human rights have improved in the country but half of Kenyans do not believe that the law is applied equally.

However, the majority of Kenyans believe that the biggest risk to their lives is denial of health services followed by unlawful police killings and harassment, and poverty/extreme hunger.

The poll by the Kenya Chapter of Amnesty International shows that 69 per cent of Kenyans acknowledge improvements in human rights since the enactment of the Constitution in 2010.

Respondents perceive the police (33 per cent) and the national government (28 per cent) as the greatest human rights violators, according to the findings of the 2018 Human Rights Survey touching on 13 key insights into the state of human rights in Kenya.

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The indictment comes despite the much-hyped police reforms.

Others perceived to be responsible for the most rights violations are the public (12 per cent) and county governments (five per cent).

“Kenyans view denial of healthcare services (21 per cent), unlawful police killings and harassment (20 per cent), hunger and inadequate low quality food (10 per cent) and restrictions on freedom of expression (10 per cent) as the major risks to their personal lives,” the survey shows.

The majority of Kenyans feel high levels of wealth inequality (67 per cent) and corruption (51 per cent) undermine a core constitutional promise contained in the Bill of Rights

Speaking during the release of the report, Amnesty International Executive Director Irungu Houghton said the national government was perceived poorly mainly due to socio-economic reasons.

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Poverty levels

“The national government has ranked poorly because Kenyans have lots of concern on socio-economic rights and realisation, levels of poverty, access to healthcare, education services, and protection of property,” Mr Houghton said.

However, he observed that according to the poll, the national government still ranked higher than county governments.

“It’s either that the public doesn’t understand what the roles of county governments are compared to the national government or people could be happy with county governments,” he said.

The report comes a few days after the National Police Service (NPS) dismissed findings by yet another human rights agency that indicted police officers for being behind over half of the sexual offences that were reported during the last poll.

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In a disturbing report released last Wednesday, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) cited the police for being responsible for 54.5 per cent of sexual violence cases that occurred during last year’s General Election.

In a rejoinder just hours after the findings were made public, the NPS, in a strongly worded statement, rubbished the claims and accused the KNCHR of insincerity.

The NPS termed the reports as untrue and challenged anyone who was sexually abused by the police to report to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority for further investigation.

“We are surprised that the commission, for reasons unknown to us, is fond of making sensational, preposterous and generalised allegations about the police without any actionable evidence that could form the basis of any further investigations,” said the NPS.

In Amnesty International’s survey, whose release yesterday coincided with the marking of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one out of 10 Kenyans said they had experienced a rights violation at some point in their lives. 

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“One in three Kenyans has seen or heard about unlawful killings by the police in the last six months,” it reads.

Encouragingly, in the survey conducted between October 26 and November 18, most of the respondents interviewed said they had stood up for their own rights and those of others.

“One out of every two Kenyans (51 per cent) have stood up for their own rights. Three out of ten Kenyans have stood up for the rights of others (30 per cent).”

Paradoxically, despite being cited as the main perpetrators of human rights abuses, more than half of those surveyed said they would still run to the police in case their rights were violated. “Half of Kenyans (53 per cent) and four out of ten (41 per cent) say they would report human rights violations to the police and their local chief respectively.”

povertyhungerhealth services fKenya Chapter of Amnesty Internationalhuman rightsinequality