Self-care tips during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic can feel overwhelming to most of us due to new information and caring for your family and yourself. It is important to pause for a moment and collect your thoughts. Remaining calm can help. It is normal to feel stressed or overwhelmed during uncertain times like these. Emotions in response to uncertainty may include anxiety, fear, anger and sadness. Take care of yourself in order to be equipped to help your family and colleagues through this time.

Watch this simple self-care routine clip>>>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFCtWc77aUQ

Coping with Stress during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic

Some simple tips on how to deal with stress and anxiety during this pandemic…

1. Feel free to feel your feelings

You and your colleagues are likely to feel immense pressure given the potential surge in care demands, risk of infection and equipment shortages, among other stressors. Experiencing stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a sign of weakness or a reflection on your ability to do your job.

2. Intentionally employ coping strategies

Put into practice strategies that have worked for you in the past during times of stress. These can include getting enough rest and finding rest time during work or between shifts, eating meals (ideally, healthy food, on a schedule), engaging in physical activity and staying in contact (with appropriate social distancing) with family and friends.

3. Perform regular check-ins with yourself

Monitor yourself for symptoms of depression/stress disorder such as prolonged sadness, difficulty sleeping, intrusive memories and/or feelings of hopelessness. Talk to a trusted colleague or supervisor. Be open to seeking professional help if symptoms persist or worsen over time.         

4. Take breaks from the news and social media

Make a regular habit of stepping away from your computer and smartphone from time to time. When returning online, focus on information from reputable sources, not just sources in your social media feed.  You don’t have to take in everything produced by a 24/7 news cycle.

5. Be fortified by remembering the importance and meaning of your work

Remind yourself that despite the current challenges and frustrations, yours is a noble calling – taking care of the most vulnerable in the community.  Together, we are all stronger.

By: Shem Alubala, Psychologist

MHPSS-Kituo Cha Sheria

COVID-19 Information

WHAT IS CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) DISEASE?

It’s a new respiratory disease which is highly contagious and it’s mainly spread from person-to-person. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19

  1. Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID19) is a new respiratory illness that can easily be spread from person to person.
  2. COVID-19 is spread through contact with droplets produced by a person who is sneezing or coughing or contaminated surfaces or objects.
  3. COVID-19 can cause severe symptoms like fever, cough, headache, body aches and difficulty in breathing.
  4. COVID-19 is preventable through;

-Washing your hands with soap and running water or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer,
-Keeping a social distance of at least 1 meter or 2-3 steps from people with flu-like symptoms.
-Avoiding shaking hands, hugging or kissing with people with flu-like symptoms.
-Staying at home and avoiding travel when you have flu-like symptoms.

  • Early detection and treatment can contribute greatly to survival of the patient.
  • COVID 2019 cannot be transmitted through air.

How do you protect yourself?

Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

CONTACT INFORMATION  

If you feel unwell, have a cold or a cough or fever, please call 719 or text *719# which is a toll-free number provided by the Government of Kenya.

You can also call the following County Hotline number/visit the websites:

Nairobi- 0800721316 (tollfree) / 0732353535

Mombasa- 0793390984/0734881233/0777777242

https://www.who.int/

We would also like to remind you of alternative hotlines available in specific situations:

  • National GBV (Gender-Based Violence) hotline: 1195
  • Kenya police emergency hotline: 999/112
  • MSF sexual violence hotline (Doctors without borders): 0711400506
  • LVCT Health (Liverpool voluntary counselling and treatment for HIV): 0800720121

We thank you for staying calm and request that you exercise all reasonable precautions issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Kenya so as to protect yourselves and your families against COVID-19.

Unity of purpose: the case of resolution of the challenge relating to P3 form by Stakeholders in Mombasa County to enable access to justice

Unity of purpose: the case of resolution of the challenge relating to P3 form by Stakeholders in Mombasa County to enable access to justice

Towards the end of 2019, the Coast Civil Society Network worked together with Judiciary, County Government of Mombasa, the Office of Director of Public Prosecution, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the National Police Service on the matter of P3 form. On 10th December 2019, the day of International Human Rights celebration, the above mentioned stakeholders conducted a session under the Mombasa Court Users Committee forum, albeit expanded to streamline access to P3 forms.   

P3 form has presented numerous hurdles for access to justice for the poor and vulnerable. The community had expressed challenges on how to access P3 form, to enable them seek justice. This is because some people were compelled to pay in order to access the form while others paid health officers to fill the form. Some failed to issue receipts. The amount issued was also unpredictable. In most circumstances, clients paid Kshs. 1500 others paid up to Kshs. 3,000. In some cases, the health officers failed to appear to adduce evidence in court.

Doctors admitted that they sought money from the patients to cover for their transport to court. They indicated that the hospitals were not providing any amount. As such, they needed money to enable them travel to court to adduce evidence.

The police were however categorical that there’s no amount charged to the public to access P3 forms. They added that the forms are readily available in the internet and could be downloaded therefrom. They however needed it filled by health facilities before presenting to the Office of Director of Public Prosecution as part of the content of the prosecution file.

The office of the Director of Public prosecution counseled that in case doctors present taxi receipts for attendance to court as witnesses, they would apply to court for their refund. In that case, the representatives from the county health facilities and office of Director of Public Prosecution needed to share the information in their various offices.

Upon this clarification, the team felt obligated to sensitize public for their information. As such, the subsequent activity was held at the community Hall in Nyali Sub County. This was on 14th December 2020 and another in Likoni on 20th December 2020. During the forums, even though Kituo took leadership, other organizations under the banner of Coast Civil Society Reference Group participated actively.   

The Chief Magistrate joined us at the Legal Aid and Legal at KICODEP hall. This was a meeting where community was invited. The community sought answers relating the P3 form at the plenary during the session. The community also sought to know why there have been delays in handling of the cases, especially land. On the other hand, there were challenges with defilement matters. Some needed to know why suspects of defilement were always immediately after their arrests. The chief Magistrate explained that some were released on bail bond terms pending hearing of the cases. She also explained that delays were as a result of constraint of human resource at the Judiciary.

There were also Governance issues raised, which we assigned our community justice centre. The entire Bombolulu Estate Roads do not have names or are not marked and assigned names. As such, the Kicodi justice centre, under Kituo, was assigned to lead a process of engaging the County Government of Mombasa to ensure the roads are properly marked.

UNDP Amkeni Wakenya has been supporting the strengthening of the Coast Civil Society Network. This support has been delivered through Kituo to facilitate Civil Society Quarterly meetings. It is in these meetings and subsequent Legal Aid forums where the plan to engage stakeholders was developed and implemented to ensure clarity on the matter of access to P3 form in Mombasa County.

By:

Zedekiah Adika, Advocate
Kituo Cha Sheria

Ugly Spaces of Neglect & Discrimination: A Critical look into the Right to Adequate Housing for Persons Living with Disabilities in Kenya

Ugly Spaces of Neglect & Discrimination: A Critical look into the Right to Adequate Housing for Persons Living with Disabilities in Kenya

Introduction

As I write this paper, I find myself at a cross roads; I would like to affirm the law- keep in the straight and narrow of legal writing. However, I am also reminded that this is but a story of a province of people who face discrimination and neglect at every turn. I know we can all imagine how hard it is to find a ‘suitable’ house in the city of Nairobi. Let’s give it another thought, imagine a wheelchair user, one who cannot navigate the tiny corridors or take up the stairs in houses that expand vertically every day. I imagine you get the picture we’re painting. I seek therefore to look at adequate housing through the lenses of persons with disabilities in Kenya. The areas of concern include:

  • Meaning of   Adequate Housing
  • Supporting Instruments and Legislations on Adequate Housing
  • Challenges to Adequate Housing for PWDs in Kenya-
  • Possible solutions

Meaning of Adequate Housing

The right to adequate housing has been interpreted in the expansive manner. The United Nations Committee on Social and Economic contends that housing is more than a shelter or owning a house. This right encompasses living in a place with dignity, security and peace. It  also entails the policies that Governments eradicate homelessness. It further entails; the right to adequate housing entails the following: legal security of tenure, availability of services and infrastructure, affordability and habitability and protection of the vulnerable such as the elderly and persons with disabilities. Kenya and the developing world has adopted a progressive realization approach to the right to housing. This persuasion has aided in getting very little done towards eradication of slums and informal settlements.

Supporting Instruments and the laws on Adequate Housing

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 is the first instruments that gives dominance to the right to adequate housing. The word standard of living is used to denote a certain desired level of doing things. The instrument goes down to specifically touch on housing and security of tenure.  The International Convention on Social Economic and Cultural Rights also recognizes the right to adequate housing in Article 11. This is a replica article adopted by member States who had allegiance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights touches on a number of rights that support the concept of adequate housing. These include: the right to life, freedom from torture cruel and inhuman treatment and privacy to home and family. Specific instruments touching on different vulnerable groups also touch on the right to adequate housing. The Convention on the right of a child touches on housing for children while Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women 1979 highlights the need for woman to have better housing. There are other international instruments such as the one dealing with protection of indigenous people as well as the instrument that is established to eradicate all forms of discrimination also touches on the right to adequate housing. The other instruments are the regional instruments that also highlight on the right to adequate housing. The African Charter is most relevant in this instance.

Domestically, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 also advocates for adequate housing.  Through Article 43, Kenya speaks to the universality of human rights. The Government has an obligation to progressive move towards adequate housing.

Challenges to Adequate Housing for PWDs in Kenya    

Statistically, 80% of the of persons living with disabilities live in the developing world. There are a number of challenges that they face. Firstly, there is the lack access. Developers of houses in the developing world ignore elements of access for persons with disabilities. It is important that houses should be structured in a way that Persons with disabilities can access the infrastructure. Secondly, stigma and discrimination that goes on in developing countries with regards to persons with disabilities. As much as they are also part of the society, persons living with disability are never consulted with regards to house designs and architecture.

Thirdly, persons living with disability face the challenge of owning their own home. This may be also linked with the idea of stigmatization and discrimination. Many of these people have very little income and are not able to afford a home. Persons with mental and intellectual disabilities are not thought of to have capacity to hold on to security of tenure hence vulnerable to forceful evictions.

Possible solution

It is important for Kenya to implement the law. Kenya has a Constitution 2010 that demands for adequate housing in Article 43. It also binds Kenya to international law through article 2(4) and 2(5).

I offer a few solutions that the Government may consider: –

  • Legislative interventions, the laws on housing and developments should be made as inclusive as possible
  • The Government working with the Disability Council need to work progressive towards making living places accessible, disability friendly
  • Awareness, empowerment for PWDs in their discourse so that the right to housing should be dealt with as a conscious issue
  •  Empowerment of PWDs financially will also aid them in affording houses and hence the dream towards adequate housing

By:

Ouma Kizito Ajuong’

Advocate of the High Court of Kenya

https://www.facebook.com/pennyformythoughtsKZ

https://www.poeticfountain.wordpress.com/thevoiceofafrica

Why the time is ripe for full implementation of the Legal Aid Act, 2016

Human rights violations continue to be perpetrated in Kenya and around the world because people are unaware of their rights. It is for this reason that legal aid in the form of legal education and assistance increasingly seems to be a necessity. There is an overwhelming number of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working to provide legal aid in Kenya for example Kituo Cha Sheria, the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists, Legal Resources Foundation and the Law Society of Kenya among others.

Human rights violations continue to be perpetrated in Kenya and around the world because people are unaware of their rights. It is for this reason that legal aid in the form of legal education and assistance increasingly seems to be a necessity. There is an overwhelming number of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working to provide legal aid in Kenya for example Kituo Cha Sheria, the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists, Legal Resources Foundation and the Law Society of Kenya among others.

It is worth noting that provision of legal aid requires better support of the State as its duty in promotion and protection of human rights. Moreover, in order for citizens to participate effectively in public policy, they must be well educated and informed. In essence therefore, effective human rights protection requires recognition of the State’s obligation as the duty bearer. FAIR HEARING The right to legal representation is anchored in Articles 49 and 50 of the Constitution of Kenya which provides for the rights of an arrested person and fair hearing respectively. Kenya enacted the Legal Aid Act in 2016, a step that would facilitate the implementation of the right to access to justice as guaranteed in Article 48 of the constitution of Kenya.

The enactment is also a sign of Kenya’s commitment under international and regional human rights instrument to provide State funded legal aid and education as conduits to enhancing access to justice. These instruments include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, among other UN and AU Declarations and statements of Principles. The Legal Aid Act, 2016 has broadened the definition of legal aid, terming it as legal advice, representation, knowledge, legal awareness through education and recommendation of law reform and advocacy work. The Act established the National Legal Aid Service (NLAS) whose mandate is to establish and administer a nation al legal aid scheme that is affordable, accessible, sustainable and credible.

The Act envisions a legal aid scheme that provides affordable and credible legal aid services to the indigent persons, legal awareness, support to community legal services and provision of a legal aid scheme to assist indigent persons to access legal aid. The Act provides a rigorous step to determine whether such persons would be eligible for such provision. Legal aid services are not available to everyone. Section 36 of the Act limits the same to persons who are indigent and are resident in Kenya. The main premise for seeking legal aid services is to demonstrate that one is indigent and such status has to be determined by NLAS.

South Africa is among the few countries in Africa that has a successful legal aid scheme. The Legal Aid Act of 2014 established a supervisory board of the legal aid service which facilitates indigent peoples’ access to justice in relation to matters that concern their livelihood. The Board adopted a four-pronged approach, including the operation of justice centres, cooperation agreements, impact legislation and a national legal aid internship programme. The establishment of justice centres as State funded entities in South Africa has seen the efficiency of delivery of legal aid in a more decentralized way, as opposed to dependency on the judicial system. These justice centres are focused on quality service provision and incorporate qualified public defenders, legal aid service providers and interns to ensure quality service to the poor and the realization of the right to access to justice. INCREMENTAL PROCESS Implementation of the Legal Aid Act, 2016 has been a gradual and incremental process. Four years since the enactment of the Act, all processes and procedures for full implementation of the Act should be up and running. The gain under the Act thus far has involved legal recognition of paralegals and accreditation of CSOs to widen the scope of legal aid providers from just lawyers. The role that CSOs such as those mentioned above in providing legal aid cannot be gainsaid. They have provided training of community and prison paralegals and established justice centres across the country to serve a wider population.

These justice centres are managed by the trained paralegals. However, there is little to no support to CSOs in terms of funding from the state. One of the foreseeable challenges to implementation of the Legal Aid Act, 2016 is the quality of services. The idea of ‘free’ services seems to illicit a lack of trust in the quality of service provision. Furthermore, judging from the small number of lawyers who provide pro bono services, provision of legal aid by legal aid service providers within the meaning of the Act may not come to fruition due to the financial advantages of private practice. Additionally, lack of awareness of the access to legal aid by the poor and marginalized as provided in the Act may be a hindrance to its implementation. In order to mitigate this challenge, a collaborative process between CSOs and government to provide information on the opportunities in Act is necessary. In conclusion, it is time to view legal aid provision through the human rights perspective rather than the ‘welfarist’ view whose main objective is implementation of projects.

Legal aid is integral to realization and protection of many rights, including the right to access to justice. The state may consider employing strategies which give legal aid the status of a human right and work closely with CSOs to implement the Legal Aid Act, 2016.

 Janet Kosgei- LAED

Kituo Cha Sheria.

Understanding the Tree at its Roots: General Principles of the Convention of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Contextualized

Understanding the Tree at its Roots: General Principles of the Convention of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Contextualized

Historically speaking, the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was the first human rights treaty of the 21st century. The text was adopted by the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) in 2006. The law came to force after ratification in 2008 and has 181 members including Kenya. The intention of this instrument was to promote and protect the dignity and the rights of persons living with disabilities around the world. This was crafted on the background that persons with disabilities were viewed more as charity cases rather than people with full inherent human rights and full members of the society. Widely acclaimed as the only instrument with an explicit aspect of sustainable development dimension, this paper looks at the general building principles of this instrument in relation to the domestic laws in Kenya.

Article 3 of the Convention on the Persons Living with Disabilities (CRPD) discusses a number of principles that underpin the rights of persons with disabilities hence the roots of disability right law.  This paper is however out to demonstrate what this principle means and what they portend for Kenya as one of the signatories of the convention.

Principle of Human dignity and Autonomy

The word dignity is derived from the Latin word dignitas which means worth- the idea that all human beings are worthy of respect by the virtue of being human beings. Autonomy on the other hands means that someone has the right to act without influence.  The shift in dimension from looking at PWDs as charity cases to human beings who deserve full rights and enjoyments of these rights brings to life this principle.  Member States are therefore obligated to ensure that these principles are carried within their laws and domestic legislation. In the Kenyan context, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 stipulates that every person has a right to dignity which needs to be respected and protected. Human Dignity is also a national value and principle listed under Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. Article 54 also stresses the inherent dignity of PWDs and qualifies it that they are not to be treated in a demeaning way.  The Persons with Disabilities Act is silent on autonomy and human dignity for PWDs however the very text of the Convention remains relevant in accordance to Article 2(5) and (6).

Principle of Non Discrimination

The principle of non-discrimination tends to guarantee that human rights are generally blind to inter alia sex, race and in this case disability. The Convention frowns upon a world where a person is denied their rights because of disability.  Persons living with disabilities primae facie face discrimination by virtue of societal and cultural design. In Kenya, the Constitution of 2010 is against discrimination of any form.  The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 lists non-discrimination as a national value.  The Persons with Disabilities Act is specific focusing on discrimination with regards to employment however, it is a bigger principle with a wider grasp.

Principle of Inclusivity

This is the idea that persons with disabilities should be included in every aspect of life. It is a principle that intertwines in a beautiful mosaic with other ideas. It is from this principle that the whole idea of disability rights is born. It propagates the idea that persons with disabilities should be included in all the spheres of life.

Principle of disability as Diversity in Humanity

This principle calls for acceptance of persons with disabilities within the society.  It promotes a view of celebrating these disabilities as diversity. The preamble of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 carries these principles as it encourages the people of Kenya to embrace these differences. This principle is important as it is a reminder that even within the persons with disabilities, there is diversity as different PWDs have different concerns. Disability is diverse in terms of the kind of disability, economic and social status.

Principle of Equality of Opportunity

Persons with disabilities require opportunities in order to live a full social life. In Kenya, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 calls for affirmative action.  Article 56 requires that the State formulates a programme for affirmative action which is meant to ensure equality in opportunity. Article 54(2) on the other hand advocates for reservation of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Persons with Disabilities Act also advocates for employment opportunities and Education for PWDs.

Principle of Accessibility

Accessibility is a big concept when it comes to disability law. While the mind will always quickly go to physical access, there is need to think of the principle in a wholesome manner.  This is not to downplay the need for a transport mechanism that considers persons with disabilities or access to buildings and the need to insist on ramps.  The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 as well as the Disability Act covers these areas adequately. The only concern would be access to justice, healthcare, employment [which may be covered] but forms the broader picture.

Principle of Equality in Gender

There is need to recognize that even within the realm of persons with disabilities, there is a wide gap with regards to gender. Women and girls with disabilities are always double marginalized. There is therefore need to focus on this for one to deal with disability issues in a wholesome manner. This is not however to say that women and girls need more attention, rather, their issues are different and require different mechanisms to deal with.

Principle of Evolving Capacity in Children with disabilities

This is a principle that focuses on children living with disabilities. It enhances the thought that the growth of a child while is scientifically documented it is enhanced by the environment that the child grows.Children with disabilities are hindered by their disabilities in one way or another; however, it is a tragedy to imagine that they are affected in one way.

Way Forward

Having understood the root principles that underpin disability statutes and movement, we need to do the following: –

  • Advocate for the progressive implementation of these rights and principle in a manner that shows progress
  •  Create awareness amongst the province of PWDs so that they understand these as legal rights and not charity by the State
  • Involving the Courts and the Judiciary as well as Parliament and the Executive in formulating plans and finding solutions in matters PWDs

By: –

Ouma Kizito Ajuong

Advocate of the High Court of Kenya &

Person with Physical Disability

https://www.facebook.com/pennyformythoughtsKZ/

https://www.poeticfountain.wordpress.com

International Day of Disabled Persons- Dec 3: [2019 Theme: Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda]

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Building on many decades of UN’s work in the field of disability, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006, has further advanced the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international development frameworks, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, the New Urban Agenda, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.