Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) Training

By Martin Ndichu

The training on Human Rights Based Approach was held on 26th June 2014 at Maisha Poa Centre in Kawangware. It was conducted by Consolation East Africa and was supported by Mensen met een Missie. In attendance were representatives of various institutions working in area of Governance and community organization. Institutions present were Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) based and working in the larger Nairobi County. These organizations address different community concerns including Gender Based Violence, Environmental conservation, Education, Peace and Justice among others.

In the training were government representatives, these included the Ministry of Planning and devolution, Uwezo Fund Dagorreti South and the Police Administration. For one reason or the other, some of the invited government institutions were unable to attend. The training was aimed at enhancing Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) in governance and community organization and also offer a platform for the members of the public to engage with the service providers. Millicent Agutu facilitated the introduction of the HRBA concept including the historical background of human rights and their characteristics. Bridged Faida facilitated the classification of Human Rights and Human Rights Instruments. Martin Ndichu led the participants to explore the Bill of Rights in the Kenyan Constitution while Josephat Khamasi highlighted the different commissions concerned with Human Rights and which are legislated by the parliament.

In welcoming the participants the project officer commended the gender representation which is one component provided for in the Kenyan Constitution and also a vital tenet in HRBA. She pointed out that the training would have a special focus on the Constitution as a governance instrument. She led the participants to understand the HRBA concept covering topics such the definition of HRBA, its importance and principles as well as the values of HRBA. She also explored Human rights definition, historical development, characteristics and their importance. Participants also discussed the responsibilities that come with different rights. The participants were made to understand that rights go hand in hand with responsibilities. Also noted is the fact that Human Rights have limitation and their validity may vary from one region to the other depending on the constitution, culture and practices.

Bridged Faida introduced the second session, this session dwelt on exploring the classification of Human Rights and the Human Rights Instruments. She led the participants to understand the classification of human rights which included Civic and Political Rights, Social, economic and Cultural Rights and Collective or group rights. The participants were made aware that all human rights are contained in the three categories of rights. She also led the participants to understand the Human Rights Instruments, this include the Regional and the International instruments. These instruments are also known as treaties and which are formal agreements between 2 or more states. Some of the treaties highlighted as international instruments include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1976), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR 1976).

Participants were led to understand that some treaties focus specifically on particular types of violations and these include; The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1951), the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD, 1969), The Convention Against Torture and other in human or degrading treatment or punishment (CAT 1987). Other treaties were particular groups of people such as The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (CSR, 1954), The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC 1990), The UN Declaration on Rights of Older Persons (1991), The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC, 2002), The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their families (CPRMW, 2003), The UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People (2007), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, 2008) and International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2010)
The participants were led to understand that we also have regional instruments or treaties that also seek to uphold human dignity. These treaties include; the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (African Charter, 1986, The African on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Charter (ACRWC, 1999), The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Human Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (African Women’s Protocol, 2005), the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (2006), the African Union Convention for Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Person in Africa (Kampala Convention, 2009) and The African Youth Charter (AYC, 2009)
The facilitator led the participants to understand that both the regional and international treaties are only applicable in those countries that are parties to them. This means that the provisions of a particular treaty are only effective in a country that has signed in agreement with the treaty. The participants were also made to understand that once a country signs such a treaty, the provisions contained herein are embraced as laws in that country and the state is required to submit reports to the supervisory committee on progress in domestic implementation of treaty obligations.

The third sessions sought to explore the fundamental rights and freedoms as outlined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Facilitated by Martin Ndichu, participants were led through the Bill of Rights that highlights the fundamental rights and freedoms. These rights and freedoms are contained in Article 29 to Article 57 of the Kenyan Constitution. It includes a definition of the rights and also defines limitations on the rights and freedoms. Participants discussed how successful the bill of rights was in terms of implementation, it emerged that some provision in the Bill of Rights were not clearly defined hence may have loop holes.

Article 59 of the constitution establishes the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission to promote respect for human rights, gender equality and promote the protection and observance of human rights in public and private institutions. The facilitator, Josephat Khamasi led the participants to understand the role of Human Rights Commission. The participants were led to understand that these commissions are established by the constitution and that the parliament is empowered to restructure the Human Rights Commission into two or more commission. Consequent to this, the parliament enacted The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act, The National Gender and Equality Commission Act and The Commission on Administrative Justice Act as independent commissions to pursue different functions.
The participants were led to understand the functions of the different commissions and some of the accomplishment that have been made by individual commission. Though independent to each other, the participants were made aware that these commissions at some point undertake their functions together.

In earlier activities, Consolation East Africa had involved with some of the community organizations to pursue HRBA in community organizations. Representatives from these organizations were given chance to share on how they had applied HRBA in their activities. Mrs. Betty Hamud representing Westlands Peace, Gender and Development Organization reported that her organization had strived to exercise gender sensitivity in their programs. The organization has also led advocacy for protection of women from gender based violence, their efforts have seen them establish a gender violence response centre in Westlands. Their active participation has seen them receive recognition by the administration in the area.

Another beneficially of CEA trainings Mr. Timothy Odongo representing Riruta Environmental Group (REG) reported that his organization had strived to uphold the right of each individual to live in a clean environment. He emphasized on the need to conserve the environment and held that through their environmental conservation endeavors they have afforded the community a chance to live in dignity. Mr Richard Karanja of Kangemi Gender Based Violence and Peace Working Group reported that their participation and engagement with the administration Police in Kangemi area of Nairobi in addressing the issues affecting them has seen an improvement in the level of security and development.

Lillian Achieng’ a teacher at Vigil School was also a beneficiary of past activities by CEA. As a result of the lessons learnt through these activities, they have been able to adopt better management as well as humane practices in helping the children in education. For instance, as a school they have ensured that all their children enjoy their freedom of religion by setting aside time for prayers for the different religions that the children belong; these include Muslims, Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) and Christians. They have also included in their program home visits for their children who show signs of distress. This way they have maintained a close relationship with their children and parents and have also been involving them in setting the strategic plans for the school.

As part of program, there was a briefing from government representatives on the available government services. Mr. Kayaga from the Ministry of planning and Devolution and Mr. Nyaga from the Uwezo Fund Committee Ng’ando Ward briefed the participants on the services available. He pointed out the Kenya Youth Empowerment Program (KYEP) a project that is supported by World Bank and partners with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in a bid to empower mainly the young people age 18 to 29 years by equipping them with life skills, Co-business skills and internship opportunity to increase their employability. They also pointed out other financial supports including the Youth Enterprise Fund, Women Enterprise Fund and the Uwezo fund. They went ahead to explain the requirement to receive such funds.

Participants discussed other funds that were within their knowledge, from the discussion funds such as the Cash transfer for the aged, disability fund and the street children rehabilitation funds were identified. Participants working in areas funded by these funds or requiring such funds, were encouraged to find more information on the requirement for accessing such funds by visiting/consulting with institutions that are tasked to manage these funds.

There was an expectation that this session would offer more opportunity for the public to engage with their leaders but as noted earlier most of them were not able to attend hence other sectors of the administration were unrepresented. This include the police, the Chief, the Member of the County Assembly, Member of parliament Dagorreti, the District Commissioner among others.

After the training, participants expressed gratitude in the training and encouraged that each of the individual organizations represented should strive to incorporate HRBA in their activities. They also required that the participants present share the information they got with others not present and also in their organizations. By so doing the participants expressed confidence that they would popularize the practice and have better organizations.

Participants further suggested some activities that could be carried out in future on the same area. These activities include; Organize HBRA trainings for Community Based Organizations, Self help and youth groups existing in the different areas represented by the organizations present in the training. Organize exchange visits for organization for collective learning, organize training on Children Rights in schools, convene a forum for people with disability and also organize forums that analyze the underrepresented issue to be presented to the media and leaders.

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Raila writes to Uhuru Asking him to Welcome the National Dialogue

By BERNARD NAMUNANE, June 20th 2014, Daily Nation

Cord leader Raila Odinga has written to President Uhuru Kenyatta, assuring him that he is not interested in grabbing power.

Mr Odinga said he had accepted the results of the General Election and that he was ready to play his role in the opposition.

Addressing President Kenyatta as “my brother”, Mr Odinga was categorical that he neither held a grudge over the way he lost in the last elections nor would he use the clamour for dialogue to seek a position in government.

He said Cord’s intention was to use the national dialogue to debate and find solutions to the avalanche of problems he warned “may tear the country apart if not immediately addressed”.

The former Prime Minister also assured the Head of State of his support in the war against terror and criminal gangs, which he said had taken an upper hand in parts of the country, leading to the killing of 65 people in Mpeketoni, Lamu.

“I want to assure your Excellency that we hold no grudges nor do we want to interfere with your tenure and that of the Jubilee administration as the President and the Government of the Republic of Kenya,” he said in the letter dated June 20.

He said he and other Cord leaders have been holding peaceful rallies as a way of engaging the people in an open and public discourse “on how we can make Kenya great and prosperous; a free nation, a people-liberated and an independent country in the international community of nations”.

It appears Mr Odinga’s move is intended to cool political temperatures that have risen in recent days following his return three weeks ago from a three-week stay in the United States.

The letter comes in the wake of growing tension in the country, triggered by terror and criminal attacks on the one hand and a heightened political mood arising from the clamour for national dialogue.

POLITICAL REASONS

While Cord has insisted that it is the only way to end the current “crisis”, Jubilee MPs have argued that the opposition was using the push for the conference for political reasons — to acquire power outside the ballot.

President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have argued that some of the issues that Cord wants discussed can be resolved through Parliament and warned that while they hold forte at State House, they were open to talking over “a cup of tea” with their rivals.

But Mr Odinga argued the issues at hand were beyond the floor of the House, requiring both sides of the political divide and other stakeholders to resolve in a “structured” way.

“We have a constitutional mandate as the opposition in Parliament and as a coalition of political parties. However, the problems and challenges facing the country cannot all be addressed as an exercise of law-making or oversight. Nor can they be resolved on the basis of the classical interplay between the three arms of government,” he said.

Quoting Isaiah 1:18, he said great leaders in the world who chose the path of national dialogue in times of crisis emerged victorious.

But in Friday’s letter, he repeated that there were five critical issues afflicting the country and which needed to be discussed to guarantee Kenya’s security and prosperity.

“I seek no office or reward. So I offer the hand of peace and an olive branch so that we may dwell in unity, peace and liberty and in happiness and prosperity,” said Mr Odinga in the letter.

The five points Mr Odinga wants discussed are inclusivity and national unity, devolution, corruption, the electoral process and national security.

He enumerated the incidents that have called into question the state of the country’s national security, among them the attacks in Mpeketoni, Likoni, Diani, Mwembe Tayari, Thika Road and Gikomba in which more than 100 people had been killed.

“To deal with this sequel of terror and its fatal and devastating effects, the nation must sit and dialogue together and in unison combat terror and other invasions to our peace, prosperity and the rule of law,” he said.

He called for the withdrawal of the Kenya Defence Forces from Somalia.

The Cord leader said corruption had manifested itself in the payment of Sh1.4 billion for Anglo Leasing type contracts and questions surrounding the standard gauge railway line and the laptops project for primary schools. “Major questions are being raised about the probity and accountability of several pork-barrel and ‘sweetheart’ deals in the energy, oil, mining and agricultural sectors,” he said.

On the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, he said: “It is not my wish to contest the results of the presidential elections held in 2013. Rather, I want the power and might of the ballot exercised and cast in freely contested democratic elections.”

There was a mixed reaction to Mr Odinga’s overtures from President Kenyatta’s allies, with Starehe MP Maina Kamanda saying the move would help cool tension in the country.

“That’s all he (Mr Odinga) was required to do. It shouldn’t have taken him rallies to ask the President to sit down and talk. I know the President will discuss the issues with him,” said Mr Kamanda.

However, Prof Kithure Kindiki and Mr Aden Duale, majority leaders of the Senate and the National Assembly respectively, said there was no reason for dialogue.

They said what Mr Odinga was asking for was addressed competently in the Legislature “where Cord is well-represented, and by constitutional bodies”.

“The government does not work under the supervision of Mr Odinga. Jubilee is charged with the mandate to govern, while Cord is charged with the opposition duty,” they said in a joint statement.

Riruta Community-Administration Forum

By

Millicent Agutu

Riruta sports fraternity is an association of youngsters, resident of Riruta Location in Dagoretti South sub-county. The youngsters draw from different outdoor and indoor sports in two levels; Provincial League and Academy. This association comprises of different sports groups including RISA, Amani Yassets, Makarios, Amazing Grace and Kianda. The association together with Dagoretti South administration held an open forum to deliberate on eminent societal issues affecting the young people. Two main agendas were highlighted, these being insecurity and development opportunities. There was a concern from the youths in attendance on the access of government funds and services such as Youth fund, Uwezo fund, Njaa Marufuku and Cash Transfers for OVC’s.

Among those in attendance were CBO’s, FBO’s and NGO’s like KARDS, Comprehensive Diverse Initiative (CDI) Kivuli Centre workshop, Plan International, Consolation East Africa, Maiden Hope, Kivuli Youth Group, DYSAE Youth Group and YEEP among other non-governmental actors.

The occasion was graced by government officials from Dagoretti Constituency i.e. Riruta Chief Mr. James Ndichu and his Assistant Mr. Rhuphas Mwangi, the Chief Kawangware Location Mr. Chege and his assistant and Assistant Chief Kabiro. Also in attendance was the Police Inspector Kawangware Mr. David Langat, police officers stationed at satellite police station, CDF County Youth Representative Officer Mr. Kabera, and Dagoretti Uwezo Fund Committee member Mr. Nyaga. Other institutions represented were; Ministry of Education, Ministry of Devolution and Planning and Dagoretti District Development Office.

The representatives of the groups lamented on the issue of exploitation of young people in sports by individuals who only serve to satisfy their own interest through the talents of these young people. They requested the administration to provide an enabling environment for the youth and their coaches to fully exploit the potential existing in sports. They pointed out that getting the youth fully engage will reduce the chances of individuals in the society using them to cause chaos and commit crimes.

Drugs; This session started with one of the coaches sharing reason for man’s creation on the six day, which was to manage Gods issues. But because of identity, we create problem for ourselves and others; This was just to infuse the minds of the youth on reasons to why some of them engage in drug use. This brought about the questions of i) How do we address issue of identity ii) How will we do it? iii) How does the drug use help you?( As an individual, team and community). The topic will be fully discussed in a future date in order to come up with action plan.

Public amenities especially the in areas of sports which mainly incorporate playing grounds and sports academies lack in this area of Riruta and those available are in bad shape. In this area for example there are only two play grounds Kinyanjui Technical and Kawangware ground which are commonly used for football leaving no space for any other type of sport. There was therefore a proposal that the administration and well wishers to look into ways of providing space for other sports including; basket ball, tennis ball and other forms of talents i.e. music and arts.
These facilities should be safe enough to enable both male and female to participate in the trainings. The facilities should also assure security of the participants including the young children in the academy and thus should not expose them to bodily harm or material loss. The association representative urged the citizen and administration to further development of sports through the collaborative efforts.

On the issue of development opportunities available for the youth, it was noted that sports present valuable opportunities for the youth to engage meaningfully in the society. There also exist other government opportunities for the young people to further their innovative ideas for self sustainability. To access these funds however, the young people were advised to form groups either youthful or community based groups and come up with development and business ideas to assist themselves. The administration emphasized on the need to involve both gender in the groups as this was a requirement by the constitution. They also advised the young people to link the administration with members of the community who qualify for the cash transfer fund that is aimed at assisting the OVCs in care of poor guardians. The fund also supports old members in the society who do not have any immediate support from their children.

The forum also addressed the many cases emanating from insecurity in this area. It emerged that the young people are prone to engage in crime since they are mostly idle due to joblessness yet they need to provide themselves with the basic needs. It was argued that engaging the young people in sports would act to reduce the chances of these young people engaging in deviant acts. The forum highlighted factors contributing to insecurity and noted the following;

• Lighting system – The lighting system within Riruta is very poor and as such the thugs take advantage of the dark streets and corners to continue mugging citizen. It was therefore proposed that the administration provide street lighting to address this.
• Unemployment – Lack of employment has forced many young people to engage in crime in search for livelihoods and thus there is need to offer more opportunity to these young people.
• Poverty – Poverty levels in the society have risen thus calling for a need to put up more measures to help the young people make a living.
• Infrastructure – poor state of infrastructure especially the roads have left the citizen prone to highjack as the culprits take advantage of the fact that cars drive slowly in damaged roads and also during the rainy period. There was therefore a need to improve the state of the roads.
• Communication – There lacks a free and prompt communication between the citizen and the security providers hence delay in communicating emergency cases. It was suggested that there be employed a mechanism that the citizen can promptly contact the security personnel in case of such occurrences.
• Corruption – Corruption was highlighted as a major challenge both in the administration and the community which is a major block in getting justice. There is need therefore to institute measures to fight corruption cases.
• Distance from one police post to the other – Distance from police posts inhibit timely response to emergency situations. There is need therefore equip the police with facilities such as vehicles in good condition to enable them make to the scenes with ease.
• Relationship between the police and citizens – There is need to improve the relationship of the police and the citizen for there to be a free interaction and information sharing.
• Responsibilities and roles of citizens – There is a need for the Citizens to actively participate community forums that are geared towards addressing issues affecting them. It was noted that most strategies employed by the authority to curb insecurity were met with a negative reception despite the efforts by the authority to have the citizens involved in making the decisions.

South Sudan: One People, One Nation

An interesting poem by http://theshoeshinereyes.wordpress.com/. Its message is an African message though it speaks of oneness of South Sudanese. Our African poverty is as a result of Tribalism, corruption and selfishness.

By Deng Mangok Ayuel
We are one nation forever,
In epochs of sadness, we unruffled each other,
In minutes of consternation, we embrace together,
When we shortly fall in politics, we hold each other,
When trepidation strikes, fears, we preserve together,
We are not Dinkas, Nuers and Jurchol – we belong to each other
We are South Sudanese.
——————–
We are one …!
We shall live together as one people,
Call our leaders as leaders, spade a spade
No matter the shame, no matter the darkness,
No matter the fear we live, no matter the failures,
We shall return to our roots, do things right, build togetherness
Pray to God for forgiveness, reconcile immediately and stop killing ourselves,
We are for one objective, one vision for all.
——————–
We are one …!
We fought for our freedom,
And separated from Sudan at referendum.
And we weep, reducing ourselves to doom,
But who to blame, you or cerebral pragmatism?
Everything but the reality, call it mess of realism,
Oh God, oh God, give us peace, free us from tribalism;
……and I am worried of YOU, the leaders, not your realm?
——————–
We are one …!
Patience shall make things right,
And purge political fear under one hat
Let’s respect ourselves, our political height
In order to grow and become a better terrain,
We need to come together as stunning nation,
Put the hate on the ledge to stop the desolation
And the public relation engraves a new assertion
——————–
We are one…!
We are South Sudanese,
No matter who is Mr. Achak,
No matter if he is from Rumbek,
No matter if he is loyal to Dr Machar,
No matter which tribe: Dinka, Acholi, Nuer
He is your brother, from baby nation, South Sudan.
Let’s us fulfill our dreams for freedom, live together as a nation

Why does the Marriage Bill Discriminate on Account of Mental Illness? Where Are My Human Rights?

By Maina Mucuthi

The marriage bill can be downloaded from here

When the new constitution 2010 was passed, everybody Kenyan citizen got their right to life and non discrimination enshrined and guaranteed in this document. Upon further analysis of the document, at no point did it clearly desegregate people suffering from ailments. This could have been as a result of the realization that ailments can afflict any person and they are momentary in nature. Additionally, the drafters of the constitution could have understood that having an ailment is not reason enough not to enjoy all the rights enjoyed by others not having ailments.

The 11th parliament has been very vocal in telling anybody who cares to listen that they are the supreme legislation body and it is their primary responsibility to make laws for Kenyans. They have also been very vocal in making it clear that in their legislative role, nobody should tell them what to do or purport to school them on how they should conduct their business. Despite the election of capable and learned people into the August house, I stand to disagree with some of the work product of the august house – specifically the marriage bill as currently drafted.

Clauses 5, 11, 12, 66, 73 and 89 of the bill are discriminatory against persons with mental illnesses. According both to medics and from the definition offered by the Oxford English Dictionary, mental illnesses include but are not constrained to Dyslexia among others. Dyslexia is characterized by difficulty with learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal intelligence.

The Users and Survivors of Psychiatry in Kenya (USP) have said that the clauses deny persons with mental conditions and disabilities the right to marry and found a family while perpetuating stereotypes about people with mental conditions. The group further says that the bill establishes discriminatory grounds which not only violate persons with mental health conditions and disabilities but also opens up more avenues for abuse of others in vulnerable circumstances. “Categorizing “incurable insanity” as a ground for divorce will serve, and already serves, as tool for the powerful side in the marriage to abuse the other side, whether or not there is a disability or illness.” USP say

“You take away the right to marry, you take away the choice to self-determination, right to own property, ability to engage in commerce, operate bank accounts, right to health, who to live with and other liberties that enhance the quality of life for all Kenyans on an equal basis with all the other citizens. We will be creating a subclass in society of superior and inferior citizenship which is unconstitutional and against international legal obligations that bind Kenya as a State in the world.” USP add. I agree with this lobby group when they further say that mental illnesses/disorders are categorized as Non-Communicable Diseases as they have the potential to be long-term and chronic but it is not always the case. These conditions are manageable if affected individuals can live a normal life with the right support systems, policies and access to consistent medical bill.

“This bill seems to imply that having a mental illness or condition such as depression or anxiety is full time. The nature of illness in the human body is unpredictable just as our humanity is, and if this Bill had gone through public participation as envisioned in the Constitution they would have received an education on the same from the persons affected, their families and professionals as stakeholders to the life changing consequences that emanate.” USP say. Finally I ask, does it mean that because I am ill I do not qualify to enjoy all the rights like other Kenyans? Am I a lesser Kenyan just because I am ill? If I have learning difficulties, how does that make me a bad or poor husband such that I do not qualify to enjoy the institution of marriage?

A PBO SERVICE CHARTER TO CITIZENS

Introduction

This has been drawn from the Public Benefits Organisations Act passed by the National Assembly (2012) and assented to by the President of the Republic of Kenya (14th January 2013 but yet to be commenced by the Cabinet Secretary of Devolution and National Development). This version was adopted after considerable debate by 50 members of the CSO Reference Group meeting on March 3rd. It was agreed that this will be circulated widely for comments until March 21st after which it will become a more formal document. At this point, it will be circulated for individual members of PBO staff and governance to sign. Comments on this document can be sent to annet@penkenya.org

The Charter

We, the Staff and Boards Members of Public Benefits Organisations recognize the important duty we have to the people, County and National Government of the Republic of Kenya. We exist to promote the public good, support democratic development, social cohesion andtolerance within society and respect for the rule of law. We complement the primary duty of the County and National Government to provide essential public services.

Effective and efficient self-regulation is the basic foundation for an effective working civil society sector. For this to work, we have to maintain and be seen to uphold the highest standards of governance, transparency and accountability. It is both a legal requirement and a matter of integrity for all PBOs whether we work locally, nationally or internationally.

 We undertake to transform the sector by undertaking the following actions;

  1. Initiate and maintain open, respectful and an informed dialogue with citizens, County and National Governments;
  1. Upon commencement of the Act, we invite you to hold us accountable to this PBO Act and voluntary service charter;
  1. Keep all documents required by law available to the public in our offices and on our websites. This will include audited annual accounts and reports, current annual budget, list of the Board members or Directors and principal registered Officers;
  1. Make the PBO Act and this charter available to the public in both Kiswahili and English in our offices and websites;
  1. Align our constitutions and practices with the provisions of the Act especially as regards to disclosing the source and use of funding, maintaining integrity in our all systems including sound Board oversight;
  1. Individually as organisations, publish conflict of interest guidelines to ensure that the personal interests of our members, the staff and volunteers do notconflict with those of the organization;
  1. Act inclusively and not discriminate against any person or groups unless in the interest of assisting targeted populations who are marginalized;
  1. Ensure that every person who serves on the governing body serves on a voluntary basisand shall only be eligible for the reimbursement of costs;
  1. Maintain a high standard of professionalism in service andinteractions and dealing with people through honesty, fairness, integrity,respect for confidentiality, objectivity,care, diligence, prudence, timeliness and straight forwardness;

10. Actively identify and report corruption, sexual harassment or any other behavior that is against the spirit of the Act;

11. Use our income solely to support the public benefit purposes for which the organization was established;

12. Intentionally both international and Kenyan PBOs,build the capacity of local Kenyan organisations who are registered and compliant with the PBO Act or other laws that regulate the activities of community based organisations;

13. Ensure that at least one third of our Board Members of our governance bodies are Kenyan citizens resident in Kenya;

14. Only apply for work permits for positions necessary for the proper function of the organization, where no persons with comparable skills are locally available and such employees shall contribute towards the skills-building of Kenyans;

15. Actively research, educate and support citizens to express their views and advocate in the public interest and express our views on any issue or policy in the course of a political campaign or election. We shall not engage infundraising or campaigning to support or oppose any political party or candidate for appointive or elective public office.

16. Following commencement of the Act in its current form, we shall immediately register and fully comply with the provisions of the PBO Act of 2013

17. Until then, we invite our beneficiaries, partners, members of the public and public officers to read and hold us accountable to this Public Charter.

 

Signed

Name, Position, Organization

MODERN DAY SLAVERY ”MIDDLE EAST DOMESTIC LABOUR EXPORT UNBAN UNWISE”

By Paul Adhoch

On 3rd December 2013, the Jubilee government quietly reviewed the ban placed on the export of domestic workers to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf Countries. The Grand Coalition government had banned the same in September 2012, following hue and cry by many exploited returnee in the preceding years. In undertaking this action, the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary did no communicate any new guidelines or modalities that have been put in place to warrant their action. Whatever informed the government, there is need to understand the context of the ban and the subsequent actions taken by the Kibaki administration.

Let us contextualize this situation. The Persian Gulf countries have a visa system called the Kafala. The system ties the employee to the employer for the duration of the contract, often two years, which is prone to abuse and exploitation. Whereas there may be many good employers, often, employees are overworked, underpaid, their passports confiscated, their communication back home restricted, no leave nor allowances for such and no off duties, local contacts curtailed for the entire period of their contracts – in many cases at least two years, In some instances, the employer forbids the employee from going back home allegedly to repay some lost hours or household item destroyed or some ruse of a similar nature. An employee who runs away to seek help from such exploitation would often find themselves in detention camps as undocumented workers without much hope of assistance – This is, by any definition, modern day slavery.

In 2008, Bahrain was the first country to claim to repeal the kafala system at which time the Labor Minister equated it to “slavery”. Effective August 2009, there were changes in the Labor Market Regulations, allowing among others, the employee to give quit notices of up to 3 months, and change employees and even nature of work, review contracts against what they signed for, renegotiate terms and conditions and so on and so forth. Thus Bahrain became a “free country” as opposed to the other emirates and kingdoms in the Persian Gulf. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for instance, the employer must give explicit permission to an employee for legitimacy status in the country. This has often been abused by some unscrupulous employers well in contravention of Article 13 of the United Nations Conventions of Human Rights.

Due to the impending FIFA world Cup 2022, Qatar has been forced to review its labor practices following pressure from the football body and human rights organizations. As at 2010, 94% of workers in manual jobs were from the Far East and often faced exploitative work practices, including need for permission to open bank accounts, rent a house, or even just make a short travel to visit friends. The situation has been remedied by the FIFA program.

At this moment in time, and perhaps this is what informed the Foreign Affairs Office in Nairobi, there is a huge opportunity for domestic labour and low skilled labour in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, besides the lower cadre workers in the rest of the Middle East. In KSA for instance, just recently, the Kingdom expelled close to 139,000 low cadre Ethiopian workers, including 45,000 female domestic workers considered undocumented. At the same time, Qatar is busy shaping up for the FIFA 2012 games and need many semi-skilled and unskilled fundis, hence the frenzy by Middle East based and local Employment Agents to recruit for this labour gap.

In the face of all this, we wish to make the following proposals: While the ban may not have served much purpose anyway, the current unbanning may not be wise either. However, the Cabinet secretaries for Foreign Affairs and Labour matters should concertedly ensure that all domestic workers and other workers exported to the Middle East and to any foreign country for that matter are regularized through the relevant Kenyan Embassies. The recent South Sudan scenario may have served as a good reference case. Secondly; that recruitment agents are compelled to translate terms and conditions of employment and ensure these are understood by prospective employees, including exit clauses in the event of any exploitative circumstances. Third that the government uses its bilateral and multilateral leverage to protect citizens through the establishment of a Labour Market Regulatory Authority in the line with the Bahrain example rather than have a kafala-like arrangement for Kenyan workers. In fact, Kenyans are basically running the Aviation and Hospitality insustry in some emirate countries at middle level management; something that can be pursued at government to government level to ensure job opportunity for many qualified citizens. Finally, that the Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies seek to root out unscrupulous agents who use falsehood to recruit workers in contravention of the katiba and the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act 2010.

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