The recent massacre in Garissa, previous terror attacks, banditry and other security risks in the country leave in their wake a bad taste in the mouths of Kenyans with the realization that the provision by the law, local and international, of the right to security is not enough anymore.
The right to security of the person as guaranteed by Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees or rather provides for the right to security of the person. It also provides for the right to life and liberty. The right to security of the person is also recognized by the United Nations Treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1996 which provides that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 also provides for the freedom and security of the person under Article 29. The Right to the security and freedom of person cannot exist on its own as there are other rights that affect and are affected by this right.
This article seeks to delve into the effects these events and risks have on the basic rights of the Kenyan citizen.
Right to Life
The Constitution of Kenya under Article 26 provides for the right to life. Every Kenyan citizen has a right to be protected if his or her life is at risk. The threat of terrorism in Kenya is very real going by the trends and as such the government is at liberty and has a duty to each and every citizen to ensure that their right to life is well safeguarded and protected. As such there ought to be elaborate measures to ensure the safety of each and every Kenyan.
With each terror attack, banditry or any other security lapse in the country, a citizen’s right to life is violated. In matters security it is safe to say that the government bears the sole responsibility to ensure that its citizens’ rights are protected from all factors that threaten, infringe or extinguish this right from within and without. How? By use of the various security mechanisms that are necessary to ensure extensive gathering of intelligence, rightful use of resources allocated to security agencies, zero tolerance to corruption, abiding to the rule of law and most of all ensuring that the country has well trained personnel to tackle the threat.
So far, the measures if any; have failed more than they have succeeded, in convincing the Kenyan citizens that their constitutional right to life is safeguarded and citizens are no longer at ease.
Property and Employment Rights
The Constitution of Kenya gives every person the right to freedom of movement and every citizen the right to enter, remain in and reside anywhere in Kenya. This right especially for the civil servants in Northern Kenya and other citizens who may have interests in property or invested there has of late proven elusive.
Every person has a right to work and live or own property anywhere in the country. Insecurity is an impediment to this right as it prevents a person from making meaningful living or earning a living in his or her place of work if this place of work lies within these attack prone regions of our country.
The right to security if lacking will not only affect other people but also the local communities in the affected areas. Insecurity extinguishes employment, investment and development opportunities in the affected areas. While it may affect the non-locals working there, it adversely affects the local community and may even lead to increased breeding room for other attackers. “Hopelessness is a dangerous thing”, they say.
Freedom of Worship
This is at the epicenter of the narrative of most terror attacks. Kenya has a majority of Christians at almost 80%. This notwithstanding, the threat of terrorism is proving to be a great headache for Christians and peace loving Muslims as terrorist propagate their divisive agenda. As provided by Article 32 of the Constitution, every person has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
Due to insecurity threats and attacks, primarily ethnic Somalis have unfortunately been harassed, profiled, discriminated against, and generally found it hard to access several services, gain employment, get identification documents among others. The freedom of religion in this instance is greatly compromised for both Christians and Muslims alike.
Though a fundamental right therefore, religious affiliation is adversely affected when the right to security is infringed upon or threatened. Especially when religion is used as a scapegoat for committing such atrocities as recently witnessed.
Right to Health and Education
The Constitution of Kenya Article 43 (a) and (f) respectively provides that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to healthcare services, including reproductive healthcare and the right to education.
The world witnessed the macabre sight of the Al-Shabaab terror group massacring 147 young Kenyans in their campus. Their Constitutional rights to education and life were snuffed at once by the state’s systematic failures on security.
Besides that the country also witnessed similar inhumane killings on a bus full of mostly teachers who were travelling home for holiday and the subsequent back and forth on whether these same teachers could resume duty. With the killings of mostly Christians this form of terrorist agenda and insecurity not only drives out people from institutions like schools and hospitals in the affected region but also hinder the locals, mostly Muslims, from accessing their rights.
It is important to note that whether insecurity is fuelled by religious extremism or banditry or any other form of attacks on the citizenry whether from within or without, the rights guaranteed by the Constitution affect both the targeted and the untargeted. The real question is; is the provision on these rights sufficient?
Kenya as a country must ensure that in order to safeguard these rights, our infrastructure, our politics, our development agenda, our policing, our systems and our resources are not the driving force that keeps these vices up and running. End corruption, discrimination, petty and divisive politics, marginalization and profiling.
Let’s embrace oneness. One Kenya.
BY BRIDAH N. KIMATHI