KNCHR calls for protection of human rights defenders

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Chairperson, Roseline Odede. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has expressed concern over recent incidents of abductions involving human rights defenders by security agents.

In a statement on Tuesday, July 25, the KNCHR called for urgent investigations into these incidents and demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

The KNCHR stated that these abductions amount to human rights violations and jeopardize freedoms. The commission highlighted that such events are alarming, reminiscent of the country's dark past when security agencies operated special squads to carry out extrajudicial activities,” KNCHR said in a statement.

 “Such practices not only violate fundamental human rights but also erode trust between the State and its citizens, as mentioned in part of their statement.”

The KNCHR emphasized that human rights defenders must be protected and not harassed adding that they play an essential role in promoting accountability and safeguarding citizens' rights.

Reports of people nursing injuries at home out of fear of being arrested while seeking medical assistance are also a significant concern for the KNCHR.

The commission called on security agents to adhere to the rule of law and respect the dignity and privacy of individuals while conducting arrests.

"Vulnerable groups like children have had their rights violated, with schools getting tear-gassed. This is contrary to the law, which states that such groups should not be subjected to violence. Special interest groups and vulnerable populations must be protected from violence and harassment during demonstrations, ensuring their rights to equality and freedom from discrimination are upheld," the statement read.

The commission noted the law also guarantees freedom of expression and access to information without fear of intimidation or reprisals.

The KNCHR called on Kenyan citizens, government institutions, civil society organizations, and the media to work together to foster a peaceful environment where all rights and freedoms are protected.

"Human rights cannot be suspended, nor are they optional. They must be observed by all people and institutions in all places at all times."