Towards this, the KHRC has been involved in the campaigns for reforms and justice processes in Kenya and beyond. These initiatives have realized many gains and faced a number of pitfalls. The latest challenge relates with the on-going attempts by the state to undermine the constitutional and democratic gains realized after many years of struggles and sacrifices.
Some of the key indicators of the retrogressive developments includes but are not limited to: the campaign to discredit and undermine the operations of the both the independent state offices and non-state actors(especially media, trade unions and civil society organizations) through threats, hate messages, repugnant legal and administrative systems among others.
Last week, the Government of Kenya (GoK) published the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill that purport to provide a panacea for the current gaps in security governance. KHRC and in partnership with the other human rights organizations have declared the Bill unconstitutional for both the process and contents are inimical to human rights and other governance principles and systems enshrined in the Supreme Law of the land and the regional and international human rights frameworks.
Yesterday, the government through the NGO Coordination Board(NCB) deregistered 501 NGOs and gave twelve international NGOs of good standing and with an annual income of more than Ksh. 500 million twenty one days to account for their finances failure to which they will be shut down. Moreover, fifteen NGOs, based mainly in Northern Kenya and the Coast Regions were accused of funding terrorism were banned.
The KHRC wish to raise five Constitutional questions in respect of the due diligence considerations by the NGO Board in making the far reaching decision:
- To what extend was the NGO Council, the sector coordination mechanism and other stakeholders consulted and involved in the decision making process? Public and stakeholder consultation is a fundamental principles enshrined in Article 10 of the Constitution.
- To what extend were the affected 501 NGOs contacted and given adequate notice for compliance. What are the opportunities for appealing against these decisions?
- What are the considerations in the decision making process-failure to account or support of terrorism or both? Was the decision based on fair processes and considerations, pursuant to Article 47 of the Constitution which guarantees a right to fair administrative action that entails expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair?
- What is the logical congruence between the so called “having humongous amounts of money” in NGOs accounts and funding terrorism? This postulation sounds selective, spurious and a gross affront on the right to equality and freedom from discrimination enshrined in Article 27 of the Constitution.
- How comes this decision coincides with current context where by the civil society and other independent actors and stakeholders are involved in the campaign against the repugnant Security (Amendment) Bill?
This decision coincides with the government’s strategy to shrink the civic space and silence the operations of NGOs and other independent voices in Kenya. It is a ploy to unconstitutionally limit such fundamental rights as the freedoms of conscience, belief, opinion, expression and association.
We wish to state that: We strongly believe in transparency, accountability, integrity and other principles entrenched in the Constitution of Kenya- both in our operations and engagements at all levels, in the society. Moreover, we believe that security if a fundamental right without which other rights cannot be released.
However, while we appreciate the state’s interventions geared towards securing the country and enhancing accountability for state and non-state actors, we declare that these must be executed within the established constitutional and legal frameworks. Any limitation should be reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based solely on human dignity, equality and freedom.
Davis M Malombe
Deputy Executive Director