A Revision of the Kenyan Electoral Laws

The President has assented to the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, an array of various amendments to the existing electoral laws in preparation of the forthcoming general elections slated for 8th August this year.

Key in the electoral reforms is the need to integrate a manual back-up mechanism of voter identification. The manual back up plays a complementary role to the already existing electronic voter system.

Amongst the reasons advanced for the dual system was the need for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to have a manual back-up in the event that the electronic system registers failure. Second is the need to combat possible breach including hacking, thus safeguard the elections from being compromised. The manual system will also identify voters and transmit results.

The new law provides that the Commission shall put in place a complementary mechanism for identification and transmission of results that is simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent to ensure it complies with the provisions of Article 38 of the Constitution. Article 38 of the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to free and fair elections based on universal suffrage and the free will of the electors.

It should be noted that the amendment does not mean the country will employ a manual voting and tallying system but the system will be resorted to in the event of failure of the electronic system.

Other amendments passed include the suspending the Election Campaign Finance Act, which required candidates and political parties to submit their finance details to the electoral commission within a set deadline. Finally in addition to creating equity and giving minorities an opportunity in Parliament, those aspiring to be Members of Parliament will no longer be required to hold a university degree to vie for political office in 2017 polls.

 

Africa Withdrawing from the ICC

Following years of negotiation and many failed attempts to create supranational and international tribunals in a bid to harmonize the laws of war, a diplomatic conference of 120 states held in Rome adopted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on July 17, 1998. The statute did not come to force until July 1, 2002 when it was ratified by 60 states as required by article 126 of the statute. The Rome Statute established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The International Criminal Court was established to deal with the four core crimes as the crimes that shall not be subject to any statute of limitations. It can however, only investigate and prosecute the crimes in situations where the member states are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. Its jurisdiction extends to crimes committed in the territory of a state party, committed by a national of a state party or in other jurisdictions as authorized by the United Nations Security Council.

Till date there have been 23 cases before the Court, with some cases having more than one suspect. The ICC judges have issued 29 arrest warrants with 8 persons being detained in the ICC detention centre (thanks to cooperation from States) and have appeared before the Court. 13 persons remain at large while charges have been dropped against 3 persons due to their deaths. The judges have issued 4 verdicts: 3 individuals have been found guilty and 1 has been acquitted.

Thirty-one of Africa's 53 nations are signatories to the Rome Statute that establishes the Court's authority. This number means that the ICC has jurisdiction in nearly one third of African States. This has not resonated well with African leaders who point out that more than three quarters of the cases before the ICC are against leaders from the continent, despite atrocities being carried out by the west all over the world. Since its inception, the ICC has opened inquiries involving nine nations, all if which except one being African: Kenya, Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic (twice), Uganda, Mali and, most recently, Georgia. To this end, the African Union has passed a protocol to expand the jurisdiction of the African Court on Human Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) to include international crimes as an African alternative to the ICC. The member states have also supported a proposal by Kenya to have African States withdraw from the Rome statute to protest what they feel is 'discriminatory prosecution'.

Article 127 of the Rome Statute however, provides that state parties must pull out one by one. Withdrawal from the ICC starts with a state party writing a notification of the intention to withdraw to the UN Secretary-General. The state party then has to wait for a year before the withdrawal comes into force. Domestically, the process of withdrawing from a treaty should commence with Executive deliberations which then directs the cabinet members responsible for foreign affairs and Justice (attorney-general) to set up the appropriate instruments. The matter is then pushed as a motion to the legislature whose vote will effect the notification of intention to withdraw.

Only Benin, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Mauritania have signed the protocol expanding the jurisdiction of the Arusha-based court to include international crimes. However, none of the signatories has ratified the protocol in their respective parliaments. The protocol requires the ratification of 15 countries to take effect.

On the ICC front, Burundi is the only country to have passed both the Executive resolution and the parliamentary vote and are thus on course to becoming the first country to withdraw from the Rome Statute. The country slid into political crisis after Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term as president, which many called unconstitutional. Since announcing his candidacy in April 2015, violence has left more than 500 dead and forced more than 270,000 people into exile. A U.N. report accused Bujumbura of being responsible for serious human rights violations, systematic and consistent, and warned against possible "crimes against humanity" and a "great danger of genocide." The crisis prompted ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to launch a preliminary investigation in April into murder, torture and rape in particular.

One of the key campaigners of the move, Kenya, is yet to kick start the official process however. Despite the national assembly passing a motion to withdraw from the Rome Statute, it remains to be seen as to whether the Executive will pass a resolution to initiate the procedure. The country collided with the ICC after the prosecution of six witnesses, two of whom are now the President and Deputy President, for crimes committed during the 2007/08 post election violence. Ethnic clashes broke out in the country in the wake of the opposition's call for election rigging and thousands of lives were lost while hundreds of thousands were displaced.

The ICC prosecutions have not gone without resistance either. In Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir refused to present himself to the courtroom to answer ten counts of crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed in Darfur, Sudan between 2003 and 2008. The pre-trial chamber has since issued to warrants of arrests, one in 2009 and another in 2010, but the case remains stalled as the suspect is still at large. The warrant can only be executed by member states when the Sudanese President is within their jurisdiction which has further worsened the relationship between the ICC and the African States. One Such state is South Africa, which recently announced its intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute. The country had signaled its discontent last year over criticism that it had ignored an order by the tribunal to arrest President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Mr Bashir was allowed to leave South Africa after a visit in 2015, even though a local court had ordered the government to prevent his departure because of a warrant for his arrest.

In the end, this seems like the beginning of a massive walk out by the African states as the debate grows beyond the countries which have been directly indicted. The end result would see anarchy prevailing in war-torn African states as the Protocol to expand the jurisdiction of the Arusha-based African court is yet to be ratified (since it requires 15 states to ratify the protocol for it to be operational). In as much as there has been much criticism, the ICC successfully sentenced Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (President and Commander in chief of the military outfit Mouvement de Libération du Congo "MLC") for war crimes of rape and pillage committed in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003. Eyebrows are raised however on cases involving the west for example the Iraq/UK case which was closed in 2006 and re-opened under pressure in 2014 but still stagnates at preliminary examinations.

In conclusion, Africa would be a little justified in their quest to withdraw from the ICC but the same would come at an expense to the citizens of the withdrawing states. Unless Africans are assured of an alternative then the consequences of denouncing the jurisdiction of the court would be dire especially in times of civil unrest. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the leaders of the countries in the frontline of the agenda seem to have a personal interest on the matter as if to say they don't want the court to interfere NEXT TIME!!

EACLJ Recommendations Included In Joint Parliamentary Report On The IEBC

Joint Parliamentary Committee Report

In the mid-morning hours of 27th July, 2016 Murimi Karani of the East Africa Center for Law and justice made a presentation to the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee mandated to deal with matters relating to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The presentation was based on the two distinct memoranda prepared by EACLJ providing recommendations on legal, policy and institutional reforms to strengthen the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in a bid to ensure the August, 2017 elections are free and fair and are administered in an impartial, efficient, simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent manner.
About three weeks later and the committee has finalized its report in consideration of the views aired by various groups and individuals before it. We are happy to report that some of our key proponents have been included in the report; they include

  1. The recommendation that only party members should be allowed to vote in the party nominations: For a long time now, parties have been conducting their nomination elections at the polling station using the voter register provided by the electoral body. This has not only been linked to malpractice (especially in places where certain parties are dominantly popular) but there have emerged allegations of manipulation by the other parties to influence their opponent's candidate. The situation informed the EACLJ's call to have the nominations to be based on party members only. The Joint Committee co-chaired by Senators James Orengo and Kiraitu Murungi has echoed these sentiments by making recommendations that the party nomination should be based on the party list and that only the registered party members can participate in the nominations.
  2. A recommendation that the party list for special seats should be submitted at the same time the party is publishing nominated candidates for the elective seats: The political field in Kenya has for a long time been played as a rewarding scheme. More so, the allocation of special seats has become an opportunity for election losers to find their way back to leadership positions. The EACLJ made the observation that the practice has not fared well with the people's right to be represented and as a result suggested to the committee that the lists by parties on allocation of special seats be submitted at the same time as the publication of nominated candidates for elective seats. The policy which is geared towards ensuring transparency and limiting the political squabbles occasioned at the nomination stage has been endorsed by the joint parliamentary committee in their report on thematic area 4.
  3. Embracing technology in the registration of voters: The EACLJ made submissions highlighting the need for technology in the registration of voters. We were keen to point out the efficiency of existing public portals such as itax used for filing tax returns and e-citizen which is now used for visa application, car search, business registration among others. The committee seemingly heeded to our request and has included a recommendation that the IEBC makes provision for online inspection of the Principal Register of Voters by individual voters through a public portal.
  4. Appointment of the president's four nominees by the Parliamentary Service Commission: As observed from the opposition's push for the disbandment and the call for dialogues to appoint new commissioners, it was clear that the political issue on appointment of members of IEBC stemmed out of the fact that the President has to nominate four people to the selection panel. It was for this reason that we urged the committee to consider subjecting the four nominees to an open, transparent and competitive process. At one point through EACLJ's presentation, Hon (amb) Mohammed Mahmoud, member for Mandera West, inquired from us which institutions would be best suited to handle the process. The committee has made a recommendation in their report suggesting that four members of the selection panel (two men and two women) be nominated by the parliamentary service commission.
  5. Staggered appointment of the commissioners: Regardless of the fate of the current IEBC commissioners, EACLJ observed that the terms of office need to be varied in order to create continuity and avoid a situation where the commission is left vacant. To this end, we proposed that the selection panel appoints two commissioners every three years after nominating the first team of three commissioners. The result would have commissioners' term expiring at different times to minimize the risk of infringing with elections. The stand has been espoused in the report by the joint committee which recommends that mechanisms be put in place to provide for staggered appointment of the commissioners.
  6. Integration of information and citizens' data from all other state agencies and institutions: EACLJ's memorandum on thematic area four put forth a recommendation that the IEBC should incorporate data from other state agencies in a push to have the voter cards substituted by the national Identification Cards. Our submissions focused on the alleged voter apathy reported by the IEBC in which we pointed out that citizens should be enabled to register as voters at the same time they are applying for national Identity cards. After deliberations on the review of the principal voter register, the commissioners settled on a number of recommendations which included one that for purposes of the conduct of the audit and in the future for the maintenance of the principal voters' register, the National Registration Bureau and all other agencies and institutions that hold information on Kenyan citizens avail the information to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission electronically for cross-referencing.
  7. The stand on party hopping: One of the main proponents of EACLJ's recommendation to have party lists for special seats submitted at the same time as the publications of the nominated candidates was discouraging party hopping. At the presentation, Senator Beatrice Elachi was keen to inquire our stand on party hopping to which we replied with conviction that the people of Kenya should not be subjected to ambiguous measures at the expense of election leaders seeking to bypass their way to leadership position. The committee has since made a recommendation that after the names of candidates are forwarded to the IEBC, candidates cannot change their parties.
  8. Vacation from office by the commissioners other than by way of removal: One of the key observations of the EACLJ in response to the mandate of the joint parliamentary select committee was the fact that the constitution does not provide for any other means other than removal from office of a commissioner under article 257. This basically meant that the process for disbanding the IEBC entailed filing a petition to the national assembly laying allegations of serious violations of the constitution or any other law, gross misconduct, incapacity, incompetence and/or bankruptcy. Parliament should then consider the petition and, if satisfied that it discloses a ground, forward the same to the president who may suspend the officer and appoint a tribunal to investigate the matter. The makers of the provisions failed to predict a situation where the members could be relieved off their duty in any other way and thus the committee has included a recommendation that the Elections Act be amended to include provisions on vacation of office by the commissioners other than by way of removal.
  9. Inclusion of non-state actors in voter education: EACLJ made an observation of the existing systems of voter education such as K-NICE (Kenya National Integrated Civic Education) and called for the involvement of non-state actors such as the civil society in voter education. The function has been left primarily to the IEBC forming the basis on which the committee has made a resolve that it partners with other agencies and non-state actors.

Are Human Rights Lawyers Safe?

human rights lawyers


Since the recent disappearance of a human rights lawyer in Kenya the legal profession has been taken aback and the question evoked is how safe are Lawyers in Kenya while dispensing their duties?

On 23rd June, 2016 Willie Kimani, an advocate with the International Justice Mission; Josephat Mwendwa his client and Joseph Muiruri their cab driver went missing after attending a court session at the Mavoko Law Courts. It was later reported that the vehicle they were travelling in was recovered in Tigoni. Media reports indicate that Mr Mwendwa had lodged a complaint against an Administrative police who had shot him in the leg. The complaint also involved attempted murder in a dispute that was of a personal nature.
Lawyers have always played a major role in ensuring that victims of human rights violations are adequately protected and that perpetrators of such violations are brought to book. In executing their duties as the officers of Court, Lawyers should be guaranteed of their independence and non-interference from external bodies. As human rights defenders, lawyers should not become victims of retaliatory measures or intimidation. Yet again, clients should be guaranteed of their safety whilst in pursuit of redress from the courts. Such protection should be guaranteed by the Government through its security agencies.
We condemn any extra judicial mechanisms that may be employed to circumvent the Law and frown upon attempts to arbitrary interfere with lawyers and clients.
To this effect, we urge the Government and the public at large to harness their efforts and help us find Willie, Eric and John who have been missing and further guarantee the safety of LAWYERS as Human rights defenders.
WE the East Africa Centre for Law and Justice join with other Human Rights Organizations and the Kenyan Legal fraternity to vocalize our support in finding Lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Eric Mwendwa and John Muiruri, the cab driver.

Petition to remove MCA

The EACLJ undertook extensive Civic Education in Samburu County, in partnership with Dr. Josephine Kulea of Samburu Girls Foundation.

The people of Samburu still practice retrogressive traditions, which include marrying off under-age Children (girls as young as 9 years), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Beading.
Beading is when a young man (also referred to as Moran) identifies a girl to be his girlfriend and gives her a particular beaded necklace...hence the word beading.
This beading is a go-ahead for the Moran to engage in casual and unprotected sex with the girl, who most of the time is too young to comprehend the whole practice. The 'tradition' is unfortunately supported by the elders in society, but if the girl falls pregnant, crude abortion is performed on her to get rid of the foetus... as they consider it bad omen to give birth out of wed-lock.

EACLJ's aim of conducting civic educate in the County was informed by the need to enlighten and empower the people of Samburu on their rights and responsibilities as in the Constitution. This would enable them to report continued practice of the harmful traditions which have been declared illegal.

Following successful training, the EACLJ received a complaint from a group of elders who were disappointed by their Member of the County Assembly (MCA). They expressed their desire to have him removed from office through a Constitution Petition on the following grounds:-

  • He has married an Under Age girl.
  • He has impregnated several other Under Age girls.
  • He is abusive and not respectful to the electorate.
  • He lied about his education qualifications and gave fake documents to the electoral body.
  • He married another wife while he was legally married to someone else, which is an act of bigamy.

The EACLJ helped the residents of Angata-Nanyukie Ward in Samburu County to file a Constitutional Petition No.19 of 2016, seeking the following orders:-

  1. A declaration be issued that the Respondent has contravened the Constitution of Kenya and is not fit to hold Public/ State Office.
  2. A declaration that the right of representation of the people of Angata-Nanyukie Ward has been violated by the respondent.
  3. A declaration that the rights of the minor girls have been violated by the respondent.
  4. The Honorable Court to make such further orders as it deems just and expedient to meet the ends of justice in this petition.

The Court has certified the Petition filed on 18th April, 2016 as Urgent, and directed that the EACLJ serves the respondent, Hon. John Lepil Lolkile aka Lemulugo and all the interested parties in this petition. These include; the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Attorney General (AG), for an inter-parties hearing on 31st May, 2016. This is a landmark and historical Petition in this country where local people considered illiterate have come together to demand for Integrity and a Just representation from their leaders; especially on issues touching on Life, Freedom and Liberty for All.

Tanzania Elects A New President

New-President-Tanzania
Dr. John Pombe Magufuli has been voted in as Tanzania's new President. The win means that Tanzania's ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) maintains its half a century long grip on power for at least five more years.

Dr. Magufuli has been a CCM stalwart for a number of years, but was never part of the inner circle. Few expected him to win the nomination. Mr Edward Lowassa, a former Prime Minister with the ruling party, was widely expected to be CCM's flag bearer for these elections. But political intrigues and other circumstances saw his name dropped from the nomination list. This prompted Mr Lowassa to defect and seek for the Presidency on an Opposition ticket.

Some observers feel that the Tanzanian opposition may have erred in choosing Mr Edward Lowassa to be their Presidential candidate. Mr. Lowassa has been in government for a number of years and in various capacities, but in that time he has been dogged by allegations of corruption. In 2008, Mr Lowassa was forced to resign from being Prime Minister after a parliamentary inquiry implicated him in an energy deal corruption scandal. His friend, outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete, accepted his resignation in light of public anger over the scandal. Mr. Lowassa denied any links to the scandal and suggested that the Parliamentary Committee that was doing the investigation had been given the wrong information.

In contrast, Dr. Magufuli comes with a reputation of being corruption free.
Mr Joseph Warioba, a former Tanzanian Prime Minister, had this to say to the AFP News Agency about Dr. Magufuli's time in Government. "He was for many years minister for works, supervising execution of mega projects worth trillions of shillings, but was never implicated in any corruption scandal. He could have been the richest politician in the country".

Knowing that Tanzanians had grown impatient with corruption in Government, Dr. Magufuli successfully sold himself to the electorate as an honest and hard-working man. His campaign billboards referred to him as "the ethical one". He has vowed to fight corruption - an issue which had driven many voters to support the Opposition.

Dr. John Magufuli is a devout Catholic who is known to uphold traditional family values. The 56 year old also happens to be one of Africa's better educated leaders. He has a Doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam.

According to official results, Dr. Magufuli won the election by getting 58% of the vote. His closest competitor was Mr. Edward Lowassa with 40% of the vote. The Opposition, the Ukawa Coalition, are yet to accept the election results, citing rigging and other irregularities. However under Tanzanian Law, once the official results are announced, the Presidential Vote tally cannot be contested in court. A 55 member East African Observer Mission, which is led by one of Kenya's former Vice Presidents Mr. Moody Awori, wants the Tanzanian Government to review the Constitution to allow for an acceptable dispute management mechanism.
Observers from the EU and other parts of Africa deemed the election to have been largely free, fair and well organized.

The Opposition however succeeded in getting more parliamentary seats than they had ever done before.

Meanwhile in Zanzibar, the elections there were annulled after the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairman Jecha Salim Jecha claimed that there were too many irregularities and other violations such as double voting for the results to stand. Zanzibar is a semi autonomous region that elects its own local government, including a President. Fresh polls will be called on a date to be announced later.

International Women's Day 2016

womens day

There are people, both men and women, who wonder why the world takes time to celebrate women. It actually may sound a bit far-fetched considering many societies in the world are majorly patriarchal. However, despite that, it is amazing that every year a day (8th March) is set apart to recognize women for their achievements. This commemoration has helped to build support for women's rights and participation in both the political and economic arenas.

The theme for this year's International Women's Day is; 'Pledge for Gender Parity'. A simplified definition for gender parity is basically calculating the quotient of the number of females by the number of males enrolled in a given stage of education.
Education is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In fact, it is listed as the second goal by the United Nations (UN); "To Achieve Universal Primary Education". This involves entering school at an appropriate age, progressing through the system and completing a full cycle.

Article 26(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights further emphasizes that; "...Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms..."

In Kenya, education is valued to the extent of being offered freely to children from all walks of life. This is an opportunity that was given to both male and female children back in the year 2003. From this, there was an increase in enrolments to school in most parts of the country, and as a result, an increase in the literacy level. It is however sad to note that, despite this incredible increase in the number of enrolled pupils, there are communities in Kenya, especially from the marginalized groups which cannot express the same success in their schools.

I will use Samburu County as a case study. In this community, schools are not a priority for the girl child. It is not because they hate education or are not interested, but rather because their culture leans more on supporting the boy child than the girl. Most of the traditions do not favor the girl child, who is unfortunately viewed as part of a man's property and a source of wealth by the community. Most Samburu girls are married off at a very tender age as a source of wealth to their fathers. There are the lucky few who may be enrolled in a school but even of those, fewer get to complete the full cycle of education.

If you were to drive around Samburu County; it is not uncommon to see girls as young as 6 years old tending to their parents' livestock. The shocking thing is that majority of their male counterparts are in school as they do not risk being forced into early marriages, and hence the parents find it worthy to invest in their education. The practice of 'beading' which can also be referred to as engagement has contributed to cases of early pregnancies and as a result girls drop out of schools. Beading is when a young man referred to as a 'moran' identifies a girl to be his girlfriend and gives her a particular beaded necklace as engagement, hence the term beading. This is a ticket to engage in casual, unprotected sex with the girl, who at times is too young to comprehend what is happening. In case the beaded girl was in school, then unfortunately gets pregnant, she automatically drops out of school and in most cases does not get the chance and courage to go back. The level of illiteracy is quite high in this community and it is unfortunate to note that the girls are the majority out of school.

 

In light of this year's theme, we are all called to commit ourselves to ensuring there is gender parity. The government should ensure that all children, despite their gender or background, are able to access equal opportunities in school. We believe that through the ministry of education, the government can make this a reality. Other non-state actors also have a role to play to ensure that young girls, who are the future of this nation, are not left out. There is room for women to do more to support each other. Provisions in the Constitution have made it possible for women to be uniquely and fully represented in Parliament. Women leaders should take advantage of this and push for more legislation that can help solve issues that affect women and increase overal women empowerment. Women should also take more responsibilty in protecting their daughters from retrogressive cultural practices by actively reporting these cases to the relevant authorities. With the General Elections coming up in the next year, we encourage women to be careful to vote in large numbers for leaders who have their best interests at heart.

International Women's Day

international-womens-day
The International Women's Day, which is marked every 8th of March is a day to celebrate the political, economic, and social achievements of women around the world. This year it coincided with the marking of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and hence a good point of reference to highlight some of these achievements done by women, especially in Kenya.

Political achievements

Politics has for the longest time been viewed as a reserve for men in society. Women have however proved to be equally capable of handling political heat. In Kenya, the Constitution has enabled women to be propelled into the limelight by providing positions of leadership and by underscoring the importance of women's involvement in leadership matters. The introduction of the 'Two-thirds Gender Rule', put there to promote gender equality and to empower women, has ensured that women's presence has been felt in most positions of leadership, including a significant presence in the General Assembly.

Women empowerment, especially through education, has also contributed to the presence of female political aspirants for different positions. These include Members of Parliament and Senators. Some women have even found the courage to vie for the Presidency. Initially very few women qualified for such positions due to lack of education and/or experience. Women have gotten exposure through education and are now confidently applying for political positions.

Kenya's President, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta has named six female Cabinet Secretaries in his government in a move meant to empower women and involve them in the decision making processes of the country. In light of the Millennium Development Goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women, Kenya is well on course when it comes to the Political Arena.

Economic

In Kenya there are many initiatives that have been set up to help empower women. Some of these are supported by the government, while others by private investors aiming at boosting women activities and their proficiency, as well as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.
President Kenyatta, through his ruling party promised to give women and youth in Kenya grants that would help them to set up businesses. The promised money is what would have been used in the case of a run-off after the Presidential elections in 2013.

The government is not the only one working to empower women economically; there are other non-governmental initiatives aiming to empower women. One notable NGO is the Joyful Women Organization, which is led by the Deputy President's wife, Rachel Ruto. It aims to empower women economically as well as to enhance general household food security by supporting their involvement in livelihood projects through the table banking scheme. This scheme gives women access to financial resources while supporting investment growth.

There are other International NGOs that work with women especially in the grassroots areas where the government may not have the capacity or resources to reach. These NGOs teach agricultural skills that help women and young people have a sustainable livelihood by planting and selling produce.
The fight against HIV/AIDs has also been a way of empowering women economically because access to medicine will allow them to keep up with their daily economic activities. The Government's efforts to provide antiretrovirals (ARVs) and an education on how to avoid contracting and spreading the virus, has contributed in the improvement of women lives and livelihood.

We also have success stories of women like Ms. Tabitha Karanja, Proprietor of Keroche breweries, who have worked hard and have managed to build successful companies in competitive industries. This has been an encouragement for other women entrepreneurs to follow suit.

Societal

Women in Kenya have experienced societal successes in different levels. For instance, there are numerous campaigns against cultural practices that are considered retrogressive to women. These include female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic violence, which in many cases affects the women and children, sexual harassment and denied opportunity to an education. The government's initiative to offer free education has made it possible for more girls to attend school and to have careers of their choice.
Kenya's first lady H.E Margaret Kenyatta has been running a campaign dubbed 'Beyond Zero', which aims at improving maternal health and ensuring that there is an end to both child and maternal mortality. She has challenged many women and men to stand in the gap for others who are less fortunate in our society. She has also been able, through the help of well-wishers, to acquire mobile clinics to be distributed to several counties. The hope is to get enough for all 47 Counties. This is not a simple one-day activity and it also happens to be a very expensive affair, however, the First Lady's determination and motherly love has made it possible, one step at a time.

There are other organizations that have come up with programs to educate women on how to take care of themselves especially when they are pregnant. These programs have been of great help especially in the rural areas where access to medical care in hospitals is not readily available. More women both young and old have now received the opportunity to learn how to better take care of themselves. This is especially in regard to their health and the relationships they have with men in their different societies and cultures.

There are individuals who have taken it upon themselves to initiate programs aimed at helping women by rescuing them from some cultural activities that would be an abuse of their human rights. Hon. Lina Jebii Kilimo is one of those individuals. She has been fighting against female genital mutilation (FGM) through her foundation. Having come from a community that practiced FGM as part of its culture, it took more than courage to resist the practice herself and still continue on to fight for other women. The added advantage of her being a member of parliament is that she is now in a position to push for laws that will criminalize a practice considered barbaric and inhuman to women.
Another lady is Ms. Kulea who also has a foundation in Samburu that rescues young girls from both early marriages and FGM. She ensures that the girls get counseling and an opportunity to go to school without fear.

In the recent past, women in the City faced a wave of sexual harassment brought about by a dispute over the manner and choice of dress. The victims were accused of being poorly dressed and were subjected to unspeakable treatment by some filthy and uncultured men. However, women in Nairobi got together and fought for their freedom of expression. They held demonstrations and got the attention of the country's leadership, which resulted in a Parliamentary discussion on the security of women in the country. The women won a victory for all women. Their voice was heard and action was taken by police to ensure that there was security for women in the city streets and other public areas.

Conclusion

Women are like the backbone of society. They hold the family unit together and are beyond important in their contributions. It is said that when you educate a girl, you have educated an entire community. This means that they hold the family and society at large together in more than one way. The role of the woman is not simply to give birth and stay in the kitchen cooking for everyone else, instead she has more she can offer to society, especially when empowered and given the opportunity.
We celebrate all the women in Kenya who have in their own way, big and small, made a difference to society. We've already mentioned some important women who've done great things in society, but we cannot fail to appreciate the other women whose contributions are not immediately noticed by many, such as midwives in rural areas and the others there who touch lives by helping others in their small yet amazingly significant way.

 

 

Register To Vote

register to vote

EXERCISING THE RIGHT TO VOTE

Elections and the voting process are an integral part of democracy in any republic. Every once in a number of stipulated years, citizens go to the ballot to elect new leaders, and retain those who have shown good qualities. These elections act as a checker to keep the government on its toes.

In the year 2015 our neighboring country Tanzania elected H.E John Pombe Magufuli. He is so far the most talked about President in matters concerning change. In this year 2016, neighboring Uganda also took to the ballot on the 18th of February and voted in H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for his fifth term in office. Here in Kenya, 2017 will be our year to elect new leaders, as we brace ourselves for the upcoming General Elections.

Preparations have already kicked in; both on the political fronts and the elections body. In this regard, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is currently engaging in a 30-day voters' registration exercise.

This is their mandate under Article 88 of the Constitution which states:-

"(4) The commission is responsible for conducting or supervising referenda and elections to any elective body or office established by the Constitution, and any other elections as prescribed by an Act of Parliament and, in particular, for

  1. The continuous registration of citizens as voters;
  2. The regular revision of the voter's roll;

..........."

The IEBC is targeting to register four million new voters in the exercise. The new voters include:

  1. those who have recently attained the voting age of 18 years and have acquired national identity cards
  2. those who were of voting age by 2012 but did not manage to register as voters for various reasons; and
  3. those voters who wish to update their details or transfer form one polling station to another

This is to say that those who participated in the 2013 general elections NEED NOT register as they are already in the voters' roll. The opportunity to pick a voters' card for the next general election is yet to present itself.
For the new voters targeted by the commission, it is of great importance to participate in the exercise, as it enables one to fulfill their political rights.

Article 38 of the constitution provides with this regard, as follows;

"(3) Every adult citizen has the right without, unreasonable restrictions:

  1. to be registered as a voter;
  2. To vote by secret ballot in any election or referendum; and
  3. To be a candidate for public office, or office within a political party of which the citizen is a member, and if elected, to hold office."

The requirements for one to be registered as a voter are also provided for in the Constitution under article 83;

"(1) A person qualifies for registration as a voter at elections or referenda if the person;

  1. Is an adult citizen
  2. Is not declared to be of unsound mind; and
  3. Has not been convicted of an election offence during the preceding five years"

It would be worth noting however, that one cannot be registered at more than one centre. This is clearly pointed out under Article 83 (2) which states, '...A citizen who qualifies for registration as a voter shall be registered at only one registration centre.'

 

The fact that every citizen has a right to vote means they have been given the power to determine who works for them, and for how long they can hold a public office. If for the last 4 years you have not been satisfied with the leaders who are currently in office, then you have a chance to make the change. Choose to vote; choose to voice your choice.
GET YOUR NAME ON THE VOTERS' ROLL TODAY!!!

Combating Cancer and Promoting the Right To Life

combating-cancer-right-to-life

The world marked this year's Cancer day on 4th February 2015, and Kenya took part by raising awareness throughout the country on preventive measures as well as treatment of diagnosed cases. EACLJ's mission is to defend life, freedom and liberty for all. It is therefore important to highlight the rising incidences of cancer in Kenya as well as the mechanisms adopted by the government to combat the deadly disease, as it is ranked third among the main causes of death in Kenya.
In Kenya, cancer treatment is an expensive affair with many poor patients deeming the treatment services to be beyond their reach, causing them to eventually succumb to the disease. The equipment in both public and private hospitals is limited, noting that some of the facilities are out-dated. As it is right now, the many Kenyans seeking cancer treatment have to wait for about two years before being served due to the depressing shortage of critical equipment. There is therefore need for the government of Kenya, through its Health Ministry to strengthen the fight against cancer.
Article 43 of the Kenyan Constitution guarantees the right to the highest attainable standard of health. It is therefore the government's duty to ensure that the cancer treatment facilities are upgraded and that such are made accessible and attainable by every Kenyan.
The enactment of the Cancer Prevention Act 2012 has brought optimism to cancer patients with the expectation that the access to medical facilities will now be attainable. It is also expected to help in tackling various challenges that have plagued the country's efforts against cancer such as; shortage of experts and physical infrastructure, poor records on the disease at the two hospitals with registries - Kenyatta National Hospital and the Moi Teaching and referral Hospital.
The new law introduces various new strategies including teaching school children on cancer preventive measures, and penalties against care providers who do not submit data on the disease. The Act also provides for the establishment of a National Cancer Institute aimed at fighting cancer. This is important as research is advancing and giving more information on causes of such diseases which needs to be communicated for prevention purposes. For instance, findings released recently show that women need to be cautious with the birth control pills they are using as some are exposing them to health risks. This is information that must be communicated to citizens and also the government has the responsibility of ensuring that medicine imported into the country is safe for consumption.
It is the hope of all Kenyan citizens that the government will provide a timely reprieve to cancer patients by facilitating a quicker decentralization of healthcare facilities in the 47 counties, so as to reach even the most marginalized patients and promote partnership in the public and private sectors in coming up with policies, advocacy and awareness program that will fight cancer.

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