Kenya: Report on the challenges to free protest 2018-2019

Kenya: Report on the challenges to free protest 2018-2019 - Civic Space

In response to the growing trend of violence against protesters in Kenya, ARTICLE 19 has released a report entitled The Right to Protest in Kenya 2019, which examines the laws, policies and practice around the right to protest.

The report reveals that people in Kenya frequently take to the streets to protest against a wide range of issues from education to sexual violence, corruption and environmental degradation amongst others. Whilst appropriate measures prescribed by law are taken to organise peaceful protests, protesters rights are often violated by law enforcement officers, and have resulted in deadly violence.

Between January 2018 and July 2019 at least 7 protestors have been killed and 21 injured in Kenya during or as a result of protests.

The report examines the relevant legal instruments in Kenya against international standards and makes recommendations to the Government aimed at ensuring the State respects, protects and enables peaceful  freedom of assembly and association in Kenya

Despite having robust legal mechanisms to protect the right to protest in Kenya, our report finds that the necessary protections are not being implemented.  For instance, there is very little public information on whether violations against protestors are independently investigated to completion, and if the victims are given reparation.

The report also reveals that in addition to police brutality, media coverage  of protests tends to perpetuate negative perceptions of protestors, and has the effect of delegitimizing a fundamental right, enshrined in law.  Our own research shows that most people in Kenya fear exercising their right to protest because of  a perception that protest is associated with violence .

ARTICLE 19 is recommending a series of actions to be taken, including:

  • Full compliance with the African Commission guidelines on Policing of Assemblies.
  • Full compliance with the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
  • To ensure the police oversight bodies are well resourced to facilitate investigations into unlawful use of firearms and allegations of police brutality.
  • To implement the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review.
  • To review the Public Order management procedures, manuals, training and practices as well as other domestic legislations to comply with the constitution.

You can find the report here, and learn more about protest in Kenya from our campaign pages.