Celebration of International Human Rights Day

Kituo started the celebration of this year’s International Human Rights day at Whynot Academy in Mathare, Nairobi County. The celebration headed to Mathare because we wanted to do something special for the kids whose parents are survivors of rape from the post-election violence in 2007/2008. The kids and mothers have faced and continue to suffer challenges and many obstacles in their everyday lives. Kituo specifically wanted to give these lovely people a day of laughter, dance and fun games.

After the games, celebrations and fun activities in Mathare Kituo hosted a dinner for survivors from the post-election violence of 2007/2008.

The dinner was hosted at the Best Western Hotel, Nairobi and was led by Executive Director Gertrude N Angote with the theme “Still Standing” to celebrate survivors of sexual violence of the 07/08 PEV who have been through a lot yet they remain ‘Still Standing’. This dinner attended by survivors, communities, civil society and Members of Parliament also served to mark the end of ‪the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence

Kituo also premiered the documentary “Take a Stand” and an animation “Let´s set the record straight” both of which aim to spread awareness on sexual gender based violence beyond the 16 days of activism.

As we leave the 16 days of activism behind, let us all remember that the work against gender-based violence have to continue every day. It is something that affects all of us, therefore we shall work against it to our fullest ability both together and individually. If someone in your community is a SGBV victim, encourage them to report because it is wrong. When you hear persons excusing rape because the victim was wearing tight and revealing clothes, question them and prove them wrong. Lastly, continue to widen your knowledge and spread awareness, it is through that we will fight against gender based violence.

We at Kituo take a stand against sexual gender based violence not only 16 days but 365 days a year, are you with us?

International Human Rights day

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As a human rights non-governmental organization Kituo´s mission is to promote and protect human rights therefore we are very happy to celebrate this special day. Today is the International Human rights day. This year the themes is “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always” it aims to promote and raise awareness of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on their 50th anniversary. The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the fundamental civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

Kituo recognizes the importance of the two covenants, so today let’s reunite and celebrate our rights, our freedoms always.

By:

Christina Malmgren,

Advocacy, Governance and Community Partnerships Programme.

The human based approach for addressing sexual gender based violence

By placing women´s concerns and aspirations within a human rights paradigm, we have made an undeniable proposition: that women are human and that, on that basis, they claim and are entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms inherent in all humanity” –Florence Butegwa, “women 2000: A Symposium on Future directions for Women´s Human Rights”, New York, June 2000.

The Human rights based approach is a key component in fighting violence against women. The human rights framework asserts that women are entitled to the protection, promotion and fulfilment of their human rights as being the one half of humanity. The framework provides a language and the tools to define, analyze, and articulate women´s experiences of violations and to demand redress in ways already recognized by the international community. The framework has been used by non-governmental organizations at the local, national, regional and international levels to strengthen their work against sexual gender based violence. The strategy can be described in seven principles:

  1. Dignity: The core basis of human rights is the protection and promotion of human dignity.
  2. Universality: The universal nature of human rights does not mean that they are experienced in the same manner for all people. Universality means that governments and communities should uphold certain moral and ethical values that cut across all regions of the world.
  3. Equality and non-discrimination: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international human rights documents afford the same rights and responsibilities equally to all women and men, all girls and boys, by virtue of their humanity regardless of any role or relationship they may have.  When violations against women are not recognized as human rights abuses, women are collectively diminished as human beings and denied their inherent personhood.
  4. Indivisibility: Women’s rights should be addressed as an indivisible body, including political, social, economic, cultural and collective rights.  These cannot be “prioritized” or divided into “generations” of rights, some of which should be achieved before others.
  5. Interconnectedness: Human rights concerns appear in all spheres of life – home, school, workplace, elections, court, etc.  Violations of human rights are interconnected; loss of human rights in one area may mean loss in another.  At the same time, promotion of human rights in one area supports other human rights.
  6. Government responsibility: Human rights are not gifts bestowed at the pleasure of governments.  Nor should governments withhold them or apply them to some people, but not to others.  When they do so, they must be held accountable
  7. Private responsibility: Governments are not the only perpetrators of human rights violations against women.  Corporations and private individuals should also be held accountable; cultural mores and social traditions that subordinate women should be challenged.

The world is still not a place where women are protected from violence, but with these seven principle gives you a language to use when fighting for women´s rights to enjoy the same fundamental freedoms as the rest of the humanity. Lastly remember that there are international human rights treaties and declarations created by the United Nations that gives states the obligation to take actions against sexual gender based violence.

Tomorrow is the international human rights day and the conclusion of 16 days of activism. But the fight against violence against women shall go beyond only 16 days of activism, even if you are not working at a non-governmental organization or doesn´t have much knowledge about human rights you can still use these seven principles when discussing the issue of violence against women around the kitchen table or at a party.

We ask of you to celebrate the international human rights day by remembering that human rights isn´t about being a man or a women or the color of your skin. You are entitled human rights on the basis that you are a human without any distinction of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, simply because they are human.

By:

Christina Malmgren

 

ECOSOC Awards 2015

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During the 3rd Economic Social and Cultural Rights Lawyer of the Year Awards-2015, Mary Kanini Kitoo – a Legal Officer at Kituo Cha Sheria’s Mombasa Regional Office scooped the 2nd runners up award! She received the certificate and trophy at a colourful event on 7th December, 2015 held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi.

Mary Kitoo is celebrated and her sacrifice recognized as an outstanding Pro Bono Lawyer who has excelled in litigating on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The award is also a recognition for contribution made towards enhancing the jurisprudence, litigation and legal education on economic and social rights.

Mary Kitoo carries on this baton from Mr John Chigiti, Mr Anthony Mulekyo, Mr Elisha Ongoya and Ms. Carol Mburugu – who swept the awards in 2013.

The Constitution of Kenya, under Article 43, expressly recognizes Economic Social and Cultural Rights. This Article promotes the equality of all rights. In the same breath, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); and the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action state that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights further states in its preamble that “[…] civil and political rights cannot be dissociated from economic, social and cultural Rights in their conception as well as the universality and that satisfaction of economic, social and cultural rights is a guarantee for the enjoyment of civil and political rights”

Kituo Cha Sheria joins other stakeholders to advocate for the awareness, and enhancement of capacities to litigate and adjudicate on economic social and cultural rights.

In the same breath with which civil and political rights are guaranteed, so are the economic social and cultural rights.

Kituo Cha Sheria-Legal Advice Centre.

UN Convention against Corruption 2015

Ms. Anastasia following keenly on the proceedings of the Sessions at teh ConventionMs. Anastasia keenly following proceedings at the Convention.

 “Nothing will unlock Africa’s economic potential more than ending the cancer of corruption.” – President Barrack Obama in his African Union address, Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

These profound words from the President Barrack Obama echoed the platform on which the third day of the Conference of the State Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption began. Most speakers from the state parties’ delegations touched on eliminating corruption as crucial for sustainable development.  The day saw H.E. Mr. Michael Oyugi who is the permanent representative of the Republic of Kenya to the United Nations (Vienna) deliver a statement on the progress made by the country in combating corruption. This was in the background of a week that is seeing intensified public outrage in the country as details emerged of allegations of scandals regarding government corruption and misuse of public funds via spending and debt. The Newyork times on this very day in an article by Jeffery Gettleman titled “An anticorruption plea – Please Just Steal a Little.”  This according to the article is a desperate plea by Boniface Wanyama Wekesa, a security guard, who was looking at a front-page story in the dailies about the $85 pens corruption scandal rocking the government.

The clarion call for this convention is however saying #NoToCorruption in totality. Mr.Oyugi cited that progress has been made through the establishment of the Huduma programme with centres that provide one stop shop approach in reforming service delivery in Kenya. He further mentioned that the programme even won the 2015 UN public service awards as it provides efficient government services at the convenience of the citizen, and in that way reduces incidences of corruption as citizens can gain easy access to various public services and information. The development of ICT based e-citizen platforms for acquisition of business permits and renewal of driving licenses, compulsory ICT payment platforms for services such as parking in some counties. The adoption of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) which is an automated system that enhances efficiency in planning budgeting, procurement, expenditure management and reporting in the National and County Governments was another cited progress. Through parliament, Mr.Oyugi stated that progress has been achieved through the enhancing of budgetary allocation for efforts geared at fighting public corruption and playing their role of vetting senior government officials. He further stated that the government’s commitment to fighting corruption as exemplified in the State of The Nation address by the President Uhuru Kenyatta which saw five ministers stepping aside for investigations on corruption allegations rocking their ministries. Additionally, Kenya being the president of the asset recovery working group of East Africa region is another progressive gain in the fight against corruption.

The government of Kenya has its work cut out as these gains that have been mentioned risk being eroded in the wake of further scandals. The saving grace even as we take stock is further commitment to UNCAC as a guiding instrument against corruption and other local legal regimes such as the Constitution. To tame graft, strong action must be taken. Civil society organizations on the other hand have to be on the frontline of holding the government to account. #CoSP6 #NoToCorruption

By:-

Anastastia Nabukenya

Kituo cha Sheria-Mombasa.

From St Petersburg,Russia.

Legal Framework on sexual gender based violence (continuing)

Persons with Disabilities Act, 2003 

The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2003 has very progressive and responsive provisions to promote and protect the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities both adults and children.

Penal Code Cap 63 (Revised Edition 2012)

There are various forms of sexual violence as expressed by the Penal Code, Cap 63, Laws of Kenya. These acts include defilement, indecent assault under section 250, Detention of females for immoral purposes under section 151.

This law does not sufficiently address Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) but an inference can be made in the interpretation of the vice.

Other national instruments include the Criminal Procedure Code (Revised Edition 2012), the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (2011), the National Gender and Equality Commission Act (2011), Prevention and response to school related gender based violence (SRGBV) is addressed in the Education Gender Policy (2007). The policy recommends mainstreaming of policies that address GBV at all education levels; establishing moralities for dealing with SGBV including harassment; developing of a framework for co-ordination of stakeholders involved in efforts of providing a safe learning environment, it is far from realizing its objectives due to low levels of legal and gender awareness among the educational stakeholders including the girls, boys, families and teachers.

By:

Ashioya Biko

Legal Officer, Kituo Cha Sheria

Radio Show @ Ghetto Radio Tomorrow morning

Tune in to Ghetto Radio tomorrow morning at 8-9am! The radio talk show will be on referral pathways for sexual gender based violence cases.

Listen at 89.5 FM or online by following the link:

http://ghettoradio.co.ke/

http://archived.thisisafrica.me/tiaplayer/popup/index?stream=ghetto

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Comment down below your opinions on the radio talk show!

By:

Christina Malmgren

Kituo cha Sheria – AGCP

Legal Framework on sexual gender based violence: Sexual Offenses Act, 2006 and Children’s Act, 2001

Sexual Offenses Act, 2006

The journey to the formation of this Act started when Hon. Njoki Ndung’u moved the motion seeking to introduce the private members motion in December 2004. Among the punishments proposed by the first draft was the castration of rapists. This did not go well with most of the male parliamentarians of course. In April 2005, the motion was passed with amendments as proposed. The SOA came into force as law in Kenya in July 2006. This is the most comprehensive law on SGBV in Kenya. Some of the key highlights of this Act are;

  • Expanded definition of sexual offences i.e. rape and defilement including both sexes.
  • Introduction of 14 new sexual offences.
  • Created minimum and maximum mandatory sentences
  • Enhanced and stiffer penalties for sentences for sexual offences
  • Limited requirement on burden of proof for the victims.
  • Establishment of register of sexual offenders at the high court.
  • Setting up of a DNA data bank and a paedophile registry.

In a nutshell, some of the offences and penalties prescribed in the SOA include;

  • Child prostitution-Imprisonment of not less than 10yrs
  • Child pornography– Imprisonment of not less than 6yrs or fine of kshs.500,000/=
  • Rape– Not less than 10 years and can be enhanced life
  • Attempted Rape– Imprisonment of not less than 5 years and can be enhanced to life
  • Sexual Assault– Imprisonment of not less than 10 years and can be enhanced to life
  • Compelled or induced acts-Prison term of 10 years

For the successful implementation of the law, it requires multi-sectoral concerted efforts of doctors, police, judicial officers, and members of public.

Though there has not been adequate capacity building of law enforcement officers who need to be trained on how to adequately handle cases of gender based violence, Civil Society Organizations have actively worked to educate the public.

Children’s Act, 2001

The Government of Kenya enacted the Children Act in 2001 to, among other things; consolidate the laws on children in Kenya and to domesticate the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) which the State had ratified in 1989 and 2000 respectively.

The Act is divided into 14 Parts with 200 Sections and 9 Schedules and these address the rights a child is entitled to and the role of the government, parents and other duty bearers in ensuring children enjoy the rights. The rights are interdependent and apply to all children without distinction or discrimination.

They are classified as life and survival, development, protection and participation rights. The implementation of these rights is guided by the key principles of the best interests of the child[1] and non – discrimination.[2] The Act addresses issues of Female Genital Mutilation, Sexual Abuse, Child labour and Early Marriage among children.

Though this Act has been in force since March 2003, the National Child Protection Policy was only recently[3] developed to enhance its enforcement.   Initiatives by the National Government to ensure its effective rolling out to benefit the intended beneficiaries   have not been matched with resources both financially and technically. Hopefully, the policy will go a long way in assisting the country to fully implement the Children’s Act and to have a functional child protection system.

 Note:

[1] In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of children shall be a primary consideration.

[2] Non–Discrimination – No child shall be subjected to discrimination on the ground of origin, sex, religion, creed, custom, language, opinion, conscience, colour, birth, social, political, economic or other status, race, disability, tribe, residence or local connection.

[3] The policy was developed in November, 2011.

By:

Ashioya Biko

Legal Officer, Kituo Cha Sheria

Legal framework on sexual gender based violence in Kenya

 Kituo recognizes the importance in empowering the community in legal education. So, for the next days the Haki blog will focus on explaining the legal framework on sexual gender based violence. Yesterday  we explained the international legal framework on sexual gender based violence (SGBV). Now we are going into the Kenyan legal framework on SGBV with help from our legal officer Ashioya Biko

Introduction:

A basic tenet of all human rights is that they are inalienable, indivisible and inherent in all persons. This fact is well captured in the Constitution of Kenya at Article 28 thus, ‘Every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected (Emphasis mine)’. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Kenya has accepted as law, establishes the right of every human person to be free from all forms of slavery.

At Article 1 it states that. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights . . . It goes further at Article 2 to state that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status . .

The aforementioned forms the premise to this Article on SGBV even as Kenya and the world at large observes the 16 days against Sexual Gender Based Violence.

WHAT IS GENDER BASED VIOLENCE?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), GBV is, “Any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will, and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females.”

Gender based violence includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering; the threat of such acts; and coercion and other deprivations of liberty. The term “gender-based violence” is often used interchangeably with (but not synonymous to) the term “violence against women”. The different forms of GBV include physical, sexual, emotional (psychological), and economic violence, and harmful traditional practices. As stated above, however, human freedom is based on the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. Human dignity is its ultimate principle.

We are not free because other people give us our freedom. This would amount to everybody doing everybody else a favour; we would receive our freedom by common agreement. We are free because of our inherent dignity, and this dignity must be respected at all times by everyone irrespective of gender, tribe religion or social origin.

The Kenyan government and other stakeholders in acknowledging the consequences of sexual violence have over the years developed responses that are captured in the legal and policy frameworks and programmatic interventions.

Kenya is also a signatory to several international and regional conventions, treaties and human rights standards and programmes of action that seek to prevent or eradicate gender inequality and discrimination which are the major causes of   gender based violence in Kenya.  But first, let us look at the legislations that talk on GBV in Kenya.

By:

Ashioya Biko

Legal Officer, Kituo Cha Sheria