The Bill of Rights in the new Constitution of Kenya (2010) gives guarantees for a wide range of rights and fundamental freedoms. This paper gives an analysis of the Kenyan Bill of Rights in relation to the national development plans and the gains Kenya has made recently since the promulgation of the constitution. The implementation process of these rights entails the reform of policies, legislation, subsidiary law and general administrative practice in a manner that upholds the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Briefly, it gives a glimpse of what constitutes the fundamental rights in the constitution of Kenya 2010 and the development strategy adopted by Kenyans towards realizing the promises articulated in the constitution. This report looks at the accomplishment of some of the rights since the promulgation of the constitution and whether the implementation timelines are met as well as the accruing challenges.
In the discussion, it is clear from the discussion that the realization of the promises in the constitution is on track although at a slow pace. To realize fully the promises in the constitution by 2030 therefore the implementation process and constitutional reforms should be accelerated. 1
Kenya has encountered challenges in the realization of human rights throughout its history. The colonial period in Kenya was characterized by both political and socio-economic human rights violations mainly perpetuated by the colonizers against the colonized. One of the most significant protestations against this abuse of their rights came in the form of the Mau uprising in the 1950s that had a great impact on the clamour for independence. Subsequent regimes through the 1960s and 1970s were lauded for their commitment towards improving the situation of Kenyan citizens especially in the areas relating to access to land for small landholders, health, education and poverty alleviation. However, during this period, Kenya was effectively a de facto one-party State, which sharply restricted the enjoyment of civil and political rights, such as democratic rights and activities of opposition politicians and parties. In the 1980’s, the de jure one-party State heightened restrictions on political pluralism and free electoral democratic processes. The ouster of KANU, a party that had been in power from 1963-2002 provided an opportunity for deepened democratic governance reforms and a renewed commitment to the promotion, respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights. After decades of one party rule and attendant human right abuses, the government that came to power in 2002 showed commitment to making a break with the past and creating the necessary enabling environment for the enjoyment of human rights by all without discrimination. It was similarly after this period that the Government commenced the process of signing and ratifying the relevant international and regional human rights instruments with a view to providing the citizens with the widest protection of their rights as possible. However, the violence that broke out after the December 2007 disputed presidential election precipitated the most severe human rights crisis in Kenya’s independent history. This crisis brought into sharp focus the limitations of the country’s democratic governance systems, which generally failed to diffuse the conflict and to prevent human rights violations from occurring. The 2007 post-election crisis also brought with it a renewed sense of urgency for far-reaching constitutional, legal, policy and institutional reforms that have a bearing on the interdependent issues of human rights, democratic governance, the rule of law and security. This turbulent historical background has contributed largely to the economic, political and social challenges that have hindered the realization of rights by a majority of Kenyans. The challenges that need urgent redress are identified as follows:
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