Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Discrimination must stop at the bottom and top.

The theme for this years International Human Rights Day is Speak Up....Stop Discrimination.

Well if discrimination has to stop it has to start at the bottom. In our offices, homes, villages, social clubs, village barazas, matatus, planes, the list is endless. In addition we must also address discrimination by the state. This approach is well captured by Article 27 (3) and (4) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

In the past more effort has been directed towards addressing discrimination by the state. The government was active in violation human rights. State machinery was used as a tool to oppress and suppress the voice of reason. Torture by the state was the order of the day. Tribalism and nepotism was allowed. Corruption gained popularity.

Article 22 of the Constitution allows individuals to take a case in court if their fundamental rights are or likely to be violated. The article also allows the court to listen to cases where informal documents are presented eg letters. This moves away from the procedural requirement of using pleadings only. It accommodates the illiterate.  Article 23 allows parliament to make a law to give subordinate (read magistrates) courts power to listen to cases on enforcement of fundamental rights. In the past this power was only given to the High Court.

The letter and spirit of the constitution is that rights should be realised at the lowest level of society. Individuals should be to speak up. If we fail to realise this, i believe human rights advocacy in Kenya will be less effective. We must tell both individuals and the state to Stop Discrimination.

Partly, i say this because i am looking for placement to further my training as an advocate. A friend warned me that i should never apply in certain offices since they are obviously biased. I casually ignored since i believe i can work any where and any time and i am the best at what i do. Latter a friend narrated how he had been frustrated by the obvious discrimination as he looked for the same opportunity.

That is why i dare say that if individuals do not stop discrimination, the state wont either. The state is not run by animals or robots, it is run by individuals. Discrimination by the state is perpetuated by individuals.

Good people stop discrimination.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Is the implementation of the Constitution a political process?

Well i have been thinking, should politics be the principle guiding factor in the implementation of the Constitution. Politics has the potential to hold the process hostage.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2010.

The world commemorates the International Human Rights Day on 10.12.2010. This year's theme is 'Speak up Stop Discrimination'. The various streams include: Discrimination against indigenous people, migrants, minorities, people with disability, women and religious and racial discrimination.

In Kenya the Constitution now expressly prohibits discrimination.  Human dignity, inclusiveness, equality, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised are part of our national values under Article 10 (2) b).  Article 27 provides for the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination.

I believe that our greatest challenge is to apply and enforce the safeguards in the constitution, to ensure that discrimination is eradicated. We live at a time when discrimination by the state and individual citizens is rampant. It is our role to work for a society where people are treated as people, as God sees them. I am reminded that God does not love me more than my neighbour, he paid the same price for all. I believe that this is the culture we should cultivate. It may take time but we will get there if we work together.

Follow what various intentional, national and regional organisations are doing to mark this day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Violence or Diplomacy: What should Kenyans embrace

Yesterday i indicated that the tide in Human Rights advocacy. In the past the Moi regime could only respond to demonstrations. But not with an offer to negotiate rather brutal force. My father was a victim during the Sabasaba (July 7)  day in 1992.

However if diplomacy is embraces citizens will also result to the rule of law. Today all that people know is to shout 'haki yetu' (our rights). Well it is positive since citizens are now keen to enforce their rights. But the disadvantage is that people have learnt the road to violence as the only sure way to enforce rights. Case in point is the ongoing killings in Kisii.

Therefore if human rights actors strongly embrace dialogue especially with the state, people will follow suit. People in Kisii will for example talk to suspected witch doctors and then if there is reasonable proof take the suspect to the police. At least i know that even God does tell us 'come let us reason together'.

Let us reason together as we fight for justice and good governance.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A new strategy to Human Rights advocacy

The struggle for a free society has in the past witnessed mass demonstrations that often turned bloody. Successive regimes were quick to result to violence. Over time citizens used force as the only sure way to express displeasure with the state. These were the days of torture chambers and riot police. I believe the climax of this sad history was the post-election violence of 2007/2008. The constitution now recognises the right to demonstrate and petition the state, and this is a progressive move. This approach was resulted to due to the state's attitude of using brutal force. Case in point is the hunger strike by Prof Wangari Maathai and other women on Uhuru Park.

However it is important to recognise that the tide in human rights advocacy is changing. Diplomacy is slowly taking centre stage. If we are to succeed in protecting the constitutional rights, we have to talk to one another. Non-violent action has to be our last result.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

No room to extend parliament's term beyond August 2010

Does the Constitution allow the current national assembly to extend its term? This can only be answered through the sixth schedule. Clause 2 suspends certain provisions in Chapter 6 and 7. However the clause does state that the next elections must be held under the Constitution. Elections under the Constitution must be held in August 2010. The president, prime minister and members of parliament must vacate office in August to retire or seek re-election.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

About the TJRC during Peace time and imputy of Old Kenya.

On 25th January 2010, i attended a briefing session with the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). The Commission is headed by Amb. Bethwell Kiplagat. I particularly remember the challenge posed by Betty Murungi (who latter resigned as Vice Chairperson of the Commission). She stated that the TJRC, unlike other truth Commissions in the world, was working when the country was experiencing relative peace. She continued to note that this is a unique case and it will be interesting to see whether it fulfils its mandate.

Kenyans know what the TJRC has turned to. The parliamentary committee on legal affairs has given the Commission 72 hours to resolve all manner of controversy surrounding it. This means that the Commission has up to Monday 1st November 2010 to clean its house or risk dissolution by parliament.

Again we all know that this is in connection to the Chairman's suspected involvement (directly or indirectly) in the Wagalla Massacre. I have in previous posts argued that unless Amb. Kiplagat vacates office of Chairperson, TJRC will never work to fulfill its core mandate. I have condemned the hiring of victims as statement takers as an attempt to cover up the chairman, victim No. 1.

Back to the comment by Betty during our meeting. The reason why Commissions work with relative ease immediately after a period of war or unrest, is due to the willingness by all citizens to resolve past injustices. I believe that Kenyans quickly forgot the 2007/2008 post-election violence. If we still recall this tragic moment, it does not evoke the same sense of urgency as it did then. IDPs are a forgotten people. We even read reports that IDP resettlement funds were misappropriated. IDPs still ranguish in camps. Mr. Ocampo is yet to charge any Kenyan at the International Criminal Court, although investigations are proceeding well.Truth, Justice and Reconciliation -to resolve all historical human rights violations- is no longer a priority. I bet that the next time Kenyans will be treated to the language of Peace! Peace! Peace! is in 2012, before the elections.

Amb Kiplagat was among the first Kenyans to call for peace in 2007/2008. Today the Ambassador does waver in his quest to hold on to the position of chairman even if TJRC should collapse. This is high level impunity.

The TJRC was enacted through one of the a comprehensive legal mechanism - The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Act No 6 of 2008 (at Therefore all factors remaining constant the Commission should be effective. However the chairman must resign if he truly respects Kenyans and all victims of human rights violations. Section 17 of the Act has very clear provisions on how the chairman may be removed from office.

I repeat Kiplagat must resign or the Commission disbanded. If the latter option prevails Kiplagat will never be remembered in Kenya for all his works good/bad.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Heko Mashujaa

Maneno Law salutes all past and present Mashujaa. Particularly those who withstood human rights violations to liberate our land. We celebrate all Kenyans who have championed the course of justice and equality. We celebrate Prof Wangari Maathai for her zeal, passion and sacrifice for justice and environmental conservation. We celebrate all victims of Nyayo torture chambers for their sacrifice. We salute all victims of the 2007/2008 post-election violence for their hope amidst despair. We celebrate Justice Philip Waki for his demonstrating that a commission of inquiry can be effective.

We celebrate Prof Yash P. Ghai a wonderful constitutional expert. We celebrate Rev. Timothy Njoya a true cleric and fighter. We celebrate Paul Tergat. We salute Hon John Michuki, a great public officer. We celebrate Mzee Maruge whose sunset years taught Kenyans the value of education (and reading the bible). We salute all police officers who enforce the law fairly without favouritsm or bribes.

We salute all Kenyans who respect the rights of their brothers and sisters, uphold the Constitution and work hard to pay taxes. We salute all young and energetic Kenyans who remain true to the dream of our forefathers.

I celebrate Reuben Kigame.
I salute my grand father Mzee Wandeto.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Maneno joins Bloggers Unite

Hi friends, this is to inform you that Maneno Human Right has joined the larger family of bloggers - BLOGGERS UNITE.

I have joined as a participant of the International Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10th, sponsored by Amnesty International. My main goal is to ensure that people appreciate the need for public education on the Constitution we enacted recently.

You may follow my comments on the blog as we work hard to ensure that Kenyans are enlightened to demand and respect human rights.

User Name :              Wandeto

Good day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Structure of government under the Constitution of Kenya.

Maneno H.R has deliberately chosen to focus on the Constitution adopted by Kenyans on 04.08.2010. I have talked to many people who have confessed that they have not laid a finger on the Constitution after the referendum. A friend was brutally honest and told me " this constitution is for you lawyers". It is our duty to invest in civic education so that people understand the constitution that governs them. Today lets examine the structure of government. Note however that county governments will start operating from 2012 after the general elections.

The power exercised by state officers in parliament, executive and judiciary is delegated to them by the people, Article 1 of the Constitution.

  • Executive (Chapter 9) The executive is made up of the Cabinet. The cabinet is composed of the President, Deputy-president, Attorney - General and Cabinet Secretaries.

  • Parliament (Chapter 7). Parliament is composed of the National Assembly and Senate.The national assembly shall consist of 290 elected MPs, 47 elected women representatives, 12 nominated MPs and the speaker who is an ex-officio member. The senate is composed on 47 elected senators, 16 women nominated by political parties, one man and one woman representing the youth, one man and one woman representing persons with disabilities and the speaker who is an ex-officio member.

  • Judiciary (Chapter 9). The structure of courts is as follows
          Supreme court - Court of Appeal - High court, Employment Tribunal, Environmental Tribunal and 
          other tribunals - Subordinate Courts (Magistrate court, Kadhi court and Court Martial)

  • County Executive Committee (Article 179). It is composed of Governor, Deputy Governor and 1 - 10 members appointed by the governor with approval of the County Assembly (Equivalent to Cabinet Secretaries at the National Executive).

  • County Assembly (Article 177). The assembly is composed of one member elected from every ward in the county, special seats to ensure that the a third gender rule is obeyed, members representing marginalised communities and persons with disabilities and the speaker.
Clause 17 of the Sixth Schedule provides that within 5 years the national government shall restructure the provincial administration to accord with and respect the system of devolved government. This does not mean that the provincial administration will be posted in the County governments. I simply means that officers in the provincial administration shall be given other jobs within the public service.

Have a governed day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Elections 2012 know how many leaders Kenyans will elect.

After the contest, that was the referendum, it is important that we all invest in educating our people on the contents of our constitution. Public education will be key to the successful implementation of the Constitution since citizens will make informed demands.

Today i examine elections 2012. Specifically the total number of leaders Kenyans will elect in 2012.

The National Executive and County Executive Committee.
  1. At the National level, we shall elect the President who heads the national executive- Article 136 to 138.
  2. At the County level, a Governor is elected in every county - Article 180.
Note that before the elections, the President and Governor will nominate a candidate as Deputy President {Article 148 (1) - (3) } and Deputy Governor {Article 180 (5) and (6) }. The candidates nominated will not be elected. Instead, candidates for president and governor win the elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission shall declare them as elected after the elections.

Parliament - National Assembly and Senate
  1. A member of parliament from every constituency - Article 97.
  2. Woman representative from every County - Article 97.
  3. Senator (who represents the County in the senate) - Article 98 (1) (a).
County Assembly
  1. A member of the assembly from every ward - Article 177 (1) (a).
Therefore in total Kenyans shall elect six leaders. This will undoubtedly an uphill task for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kenyan Government versus International Criminal Court

In the recent days questions have arisen over the government's committment to cooperate withthe International Criminal Court (ICC). Victims of Human Rights Violations that occured after the 2007 general elections are keenly waiting for justice.

However it is not clear, at least for me, Kenya's policy as the ICC continues with investigations. Do we seek restorative, retrubutive or deterence justice? Do we seek a combination of the three aims of the criminal justice system.

Parliament enacted the International Crimes Act, 2008 (domesticating the Rome Statute on the ICC). Section 3 states that the act is binding on the government. Section 4(1) states the provisions of the Rome Statute specified in subsection (2) shall have the force of law in Kenya in relation to the following matters -

  1.  the making of requests by the ICC to Kenya for assistance and the method of dealing with those requests;
  2.  the conduct of an investigation by the Prosecutor or the ICC;
  3. the bringing and determination of proceedings before the ICC;
  4.  the enforcement in Kenya of sentences of imprisonment or other measures imposed by the ICC, and any related matters;
  5. the making of requests by Kenya to the ICC for assistance and the method of dealing with those requests.
It is clear that as a people we delegated the exercise of our sovereign power to Parliament. Parliament then enacted legislation binding the government to cooperate with the ICC. It is therefore not a matter of guarding our sovereignty, we have already given it up. That is why i emphasize that African states must be carefull never to sign international instruments as a means of appealing to other interests. Before signing international conventions we must consult the people, africans will increasingly be frustrated with their own elected representatives.

The government failed to establish a special tribunal to try post-election related crimes. The Cionstitution of Kenya (Ammendment Bill) 2008, the Constitution of Kenya (Ammendment Bill) 2009 and the Special Tribunal for Kenya Statute, 2009 were defeated at the floor of the house.

Since the victims deserve justice the ICC process must continue albeit with challenges.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The tide of By-Elections: Voters did not spare the rod.

It is now official that Margret Wanjiru, William Kabogo and Gidion Mbuvi are the Members of Parliament elect in Starehe, Juja and Makadara constituencies. The Interim Independent Electoral Commission conducted free and fair elections. I witnessed this as i cast my vote at Juja Road Primary School at 9:30 am.

This should send a warning to all politicians eying the Presidential, Parliamentary and County positions (Senator, Governor and women representatives) that without results Kenyans will shun you.

Our democracy is gradually rising above partisan politics, political might does not count any more. Kenyans now what matters and will vote for candidates who will deliver. The electorate want justice, accountability, security and sustainable development.

Hail voters in Starehe, Juja and Makadara. More to follow in 2012.

Sovereignty: We the people of Kenya.

Our Constitution is a strong declaration of how as Kenyans we desire to conduct our affairs. It has occurred to me that we do not take our sovereignty seriously or simply we do not know its real meaning. The constitution is a sacred agreement and it distinguishes us from all other countries. The government in all affairs must strictly safeguard our sovereignty.

Article 1 begins by vesting all sovereign power on the people of Kenya. The people may exercise their sovereignty directly or through their democratically elected leaders. Since not all people can govern, the sovereign power is delegated to institutions i.e Parliament (National Assembly, Senate and County Legislative Assemblies).

However i believe we are keen on protecting our interests in certain matters on the basis of sovereignty. For instance the row with International Criminal Court (ICC) on Kenya's failure to arrest Sudan President Omar Al- Bashir and in a host of other foreign affairs dealings.

Many Kenyans have in the recent weeks been arrested in Kenya and charged with terrorism charges in Uganda. Are they not Kenyans, whether Muslims or Christians they deserve a fair hearing here in Kenya. If convicted then our courts will pass sentence. It is like a neighbour reporting to you that your child is alleges to have stolen sugar in his house. Instead of investigating the matter, you simply release your child to the neighbour for interrogation and punishment. If my son has stolen i will discipline him, i will use my rod.

An alternative perspective is on the Millennium Development Goals. It is now known that developing countries may never achieve the millennium targets. Part of the reason advanced is that donor funding to achieve these goals has not been forthcoming. I then ask whose goals are they? It is similar to a person setting a goal for you and committing to assist you attain the goal. Only for the goal-setter to fail in the commitment.

If our projects are to be sustainable, we must gradually turn away from wholesome dependence on donor funding. We must utilise the resources we have as a nation to make gradual progress which will be sustainable. The laws for the implementation of the constitution must be drafted by our legislative drafters. The Constitution should teach us to harness and have faith in what we have.

This is the motivation behind Maneno Human Rights, i pray that not a single day will Maneno receive foreign grants.The same should apply to all national projects.

Enjoy your day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Implementing our Constitution.

Recent developments on the process of implementing the constitution is interesting to analyse.

All of a sudden, politicians are unveiling county governments, the fate of the provincial administration hangs in the balance, we are not sure if Kenya has competent legislative drafters and so on.....

I still reiterate that the implementation process is our core duty as we seek to enjoy living in a democratic state. We must frown against those who violate fundamental rights and freedoms and oppose those who disobey the constitution. In addition our eternal vigilance to safeguard the process must be founded on respecting the rights of others.

When a people decide to be free nothing can stop them.

Is TJRC a sinking ship?

Well i hate to say this but my mother taught me the freedom we get by telling the truth.

Concerning the Kenya's Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) i doubt whether it will serve its purpose. When the curtains fall on the TJRC will Kenyans say that, it was  a worthwhile investment on building a better nation?

The lack of political will, controversy at the commission's leadership and hiring of victims as staff is the latest indication that the process is headed the wrong way.

I have also read about the conduct of truth commissions in Argentina, Chile, El-Salvador and South Africa and believe me we are far off. One distinctive feature of these commissions is the fact that all controversies surrounding their work were resolved. Concerns raised by the Civil Society organisations were addressed, so as to build confidence in the process. The commissions were impartial and respected by all. The process was all inclusive, victims and alleged perpetrators given an equal opportunity to participate.

We need responsible leadership at the commission. Mere 'looking busy' will not benefit this country. This applies to all public and private institutions. At the end of the day we must seek to contribute to the well being of all KENYANS and AFRICANS in general.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Should victims work for the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission?

The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) has hired 300 statement takers. 100 of them are victims of past human rights abuses. The reason behind it according to the TJRC is that this is a victim-driven process. Let us discuss whether victims should take such a primary role in the Truth Justice and Reconciliation process.

Recall that the Chairperson is victim number one, since he has indicated in public that he looks forward to have his case heard (remember he is so wealthy he has filed another suit in court- to clear his name). In my view this is the foundation of disaster. Justice requires that all victims are treated equally. There are no classes of victims nor should victims be treated on a priority basis.

One of the core functions of the TJRC under section 6 of the TJRC Act, 2008 (No. 6 of 2008) is- investigate gross violations and abuses of human rights including abductions, disappearances, detentions, torture, sexual violations, murder, extrajudicial killings, ill-treatment and expropriation of property.

Statement taking is the most important stage of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation process. If a victim's statement is not taken, then that violation may never find a place in the hearings or even the final report. In other words this is the entry point for all cases. It therefore means that the Kenyan TJRC has opened up alternative entry points, that of being a Chairperson or a statement taker. Remember that all victims whether rich or poor, young or old, literate or illiterate desire to be heard and hopefully secure redress. However due to resource constraints, not all cases will be heard at the TJRC hearings. Indeed some will get redress, others will appear in the final report and some dismissed for lack of merit.  Statement takers should therefore be professionals, well trained for the work.

Justice must be done and seen manifestly to be done. The question is whether the victims who do not work as statement takers will perceive justice to be done in the present circumstances? I wonder if the case involving the chairperson will be heard first? Won't there be the temptation for 'victim statement takers' to prefer their cases or even add more details just to make sure their cases are heard? Although statement takers will only take statements, is the process open and impartial? Can all Kenyans identify with the process? Is it a process for a few, or for the entire republic? Is the process honest?

These are critical questions that come to my mind. What is your view.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Link to ICC and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

International Criminal Court (ICC)

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)

What is in our constitution?

Have you been reading the Constitution or did you heap it the garbage after celebrating its promulgation last Friday. The real test particularly for lawyers lies in the way we interprete the constitution in court, chambers and to the general public. This will influence the gains our beloved country will reap from the constitution.

Section 19 of the Sixth Schedule provides that the rules on the enforcement of fundamental rights and freedoms under Section 84 (6) of the former constitution, shall apply under Article 22. The rules shall be applied with the necessary alterations, adaptations, qualifications and exceptions so that they conform with the objective of Article 22.

I t will therefore be intriguing to see whether individuals will utilise the opportunity given by Article 22(1) giving every Kenyan the right to institute court proceedings to claim that a right has been denied, violated or infringed. Lawyers should be at  the fore front of guiding our people.

Post for thought.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Our Young men are slowly sliding to oblivion

Two weeks ago i travelled upcountry and noticed small sheds erected along the Nairobi Nyeri highway. A closer look revealed that they are khat/ 'miraa' dens. They are occupied by numerous young men who do nothing but sell and chew miraa as they chat through out the day.

The same scenario i witnessed in other parts of the country including Nairobi. It is the high time this menace is addressed before we lose our young, talented yet wasted men.

Cultivate Respect for the rule of law

One of the major highlights of the New Constitution is that all Kenyans are equal before the law. Calls by a section of Kenyans to amend the constitution are therefore ridiculous. The roots of this suggestion is the 'promise' made by the President and Prime minister that 'contentious' clauses would be amended.

Well gone are the days of executive orders, the President can only fulfill his promise pursuant to the law. Amendments can not be effected by a stroke of the pen. Since this will negate the Sovereignty of the Kenyan people who ratified the Constitution on 4th August 2010. The 'promise' was only made in the context of a political contest.

All methods of amending the constitution are provided under Chapter 16 of the New Constitution, Article 256 and 257 provide for amendment through Parliamentary initiative or Popular Initiative. Let someone advice the Cardinal and all those who share his views.

Lastly i agree, civic education is crucial to the implementation process. I recall recently listening to Prof Wangari Maathai after watching her documentary Taking Root The Vision of Wangari Maathai.

Prof emphasized that our main problem is our lack of interest in reading and seeking knowledge and understanding so that when things go wrong then we can question.

Read a book before watching a movie and respect the rule of law.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

At last a New Constitution for Kenya

It a new dawn in Kenya as we embark on implementing the Proposed New Constitution, ratified by Kenyans in the referendum.

This is the beginning of a long journey towards national transformation.

I salute those who have fought long and hard for liberation. I salute Kenyans for voting peacefully. I salute those who voted against the draft but accepted the results gladly. I salute those who remained faithful to the course of justice, equality and democracy.

It will not happen overnight, but we dare celebrate this initial step knowing well that we will realise a new Kenya.

Justice be our shield and defender, may we dwell in unity,peace and liberty.

God bless Kenya

Saturday, July 31, 2010

If you have a dream move on

This week i watched the documentary "Taking Root the Vision of Wangari Maathai". It is the incredible story of Prof Wangari Maathai fight for justice, human rights and good governance.

Then i remembered my dream of impacting the Human Rights-Responsibility movement. I started through this blog, so far i have had one comment from Wanjiru. Yet i dare not give up. With the help of God i dare expand my vision and dream.

With time i know the world will be scrambling to post comments on Maneno and all its manifestations. Soon i shall announce changes to the course of this emerging movement, since there is no limit to what God can do.

Move on.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vote for a better future with Kenya in mind

Well we all go to the polls next week, August 4th 2010. This will be a defining moment for Kenya's present and future generations. I have read the draft and followed the debate on the Proposed constitution. I have to admit that unfortunately many have ill interests as they contribute to the debate.

One thing we must realise as Kenyans is that we have the responsibility to make the right choice. As you vote think not what your superiors will say but rather what your juniors stand to benefit. The proposed constitution will not bring food on the table, we have to work and toil. However it will create the right institutional and structural framework to safeguard that which we work for. It will give ordinary Kenyans a chance to contribute to the welfare of the nation. No longer will few individuals manipulate the destiny of our nation.

About perfection, lets be honest when will we ever agree as a nation. The diverse interests informing the debate should tell you how diverse we are. So lets all work towards a better country and vote yes for the proposed constitution. The flaws in the draft, which are few, must be addressed within the new constitutional framework. The inadequacies in the draft are not a good enough reason to reject the draft. That is my solemn belief.

Do exercise your democratic right and vote as you please.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rights without duties and responsibility, a total mess.

I have argued in the past that one of the major handicaps we face as a nation and region is emphasis on rights without responsibilities. I like the wording of Section 7 of the Penal Code which provides that ignorance of the Law is not a defence is a good example of our duty. This means that a person cannot claim that he/she did not know about the existence of a law as a way of escaping punishment. The law expects that you read it. If you do not, and still go ahead to break the same law, you will be liable.

But instead of focusing on the problem i have a solution, CIVIC EDUCATION.That is why we all need to invest more in reading the law and teaching on the contents of the law.

Pleasant evening

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lead by Reading the Proposed Constitution

I do not mean to disrespect our leaders, but i wish the President, Prime Minister and all leaders who are seemingly passionate about the constitution would read the draft constitution during every public gathering.
This will keep the nation's attention on having a candid conversation on the proposals.

Again its just a wish and we all know the nature of 'constitutional' rallies. In the mean time let keep reading.

Maneno Human Rights says Lead by Reading.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Financing County Governments in the Proposed Constitution.

The question whether the proposed constitution devolves sufficient funds to the county to ensure its sustainability is a critical question in the ongoing civic debate on the constitution. It has been proposed that under the proposed structure only 15% of the National Revenue is allocated to counties. However the Article 203 (2) provides that not less than 15% of the revenue collected by the national government shall be allocated to county governments. This means that this is a basic minimum, giving room for more allocation.

The proposed  constitution advances the principle of equity as opposed to equality in the sharing of resources between the national and county government, and between county governments. Article 203 (1) provides for equitable principles which are need-oriented as opposed a system that is hostile to adjustments. For instance 203 (1) (f) and (g) include the principles of the development needs of the counties and the economic disparities within and among counties and the need to remedy such disparity. Such provisions target counties in marginalised areas like Wajir and Mandera.

Further more there are additional modes of financing the counties which include the Revenue Fund under Article 207. This arises from the power of counties governments to tax and charges under Article 209. The counties may also borrow if the national government guarantees the loan and the county assembly approves according to Article 212.

The various financing options once exploited are far from the lies politicians are spreading on the county governments.

Maneno wishes an informed day.

Great Potential lies in Marginalised Nothern Kenya

My visit to Garissa and Wajir confirmed my fears and concern about the foundation of our beloved country, marginalisation of  North Eastern province.  The most affected areas being Infrastructure, Education, Health, Communication, Gross violation of Human Rights and Access to justice.

Although the subject of my adventure was access to justice it is inevitable to ignore other spheres of development. As recognised by the United Nations, access to justice is a necessary ingredient to alleviate poverty. However looking at citizens of North Eastern i must congratulate them for their 'never give up' spirit. A good example is the road from Garissa to Wajir which is terrible, and from the residents it is often impassable during the rainy season. Conversations with residents revealed that the road to Mandera is worse.

Why have successive governments ignored the vast potential that lies in improving infrastructure in Northern Kenya? The vast unutilised land could be used for irrigation schemes, that will attract investments and growth. However the best interests of pastoral communities living in Northern Kenya must be the primary consideration.

This is a question that the Proposed Constitution of Kenya aimed to address in proposing the inclusion of the Garissa, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit counties. The counties will go a long way in ensuring that the people of North Eastern take charge of their development priorities.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Africa has potential but...

Yesterday i took time to watch my first worldcup full-match at 9:30pm, Nigeria v Korea Republic, hoping that this time i would not doze off. I am a fan of 'classic' footbal no matter the team playing. However footbal analysists had informed me that Nigeria had a very good chance of progressing to the next stage. The oga brothers started well, Korea looked week. Infact Nigeria scored but i enjoyed the resilience of the Koreans, they were very consistent.

During the second half, the teams were level at 2-2, Nigeria had to win. The Koreans would proceed with a draw but were still attacking. My oga brothers were doing well, creating the so called 'chances'. Then Yakubu missed a goal that he was surely ashamed off, that was not all Obafemi Martins missed another. It was very frustrating.

I am not a footbal comentator but the game revealed the true nature of the African continent. Wasted opportunities, misplaced priorities, untapped potential unitilized resources the list is endless. I have no doubt that Africa is no different from western countries, but we have to get our act together.

The evils of corruption, tribalism, nepotism, ignorance, poor governance, violation of human rights, civil wars and illeteracy are our undoing. As a continent we need to take responsibility and deal with them.

We can do just about anything the developed world has achieved, and better. However to progress to the next stage unlike in the Nigeria v Korea match, we must seize the opportunities and make a difference. In doing so the principles of Human dignity, rule of law, democracy and upholding human rights must be the foundation

Go Africa!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fundamental Rights and Freedoms: Article 26 – 57 of the Proposed Constitution
The current debate on the proposed constitution has put the Bill of Rights in sharp focus by well-intentioned and ill-intentioned individuals. Let us take time to analyse its provision with a clarion call for proper reading of the draft.

Right to life; Right to human dignity; Right to privacy; Right to access information; Right to assemble, demonstrate, picket and petition; Political rights; Right to property; Labour rights; Right to a clean and healthy environment; Right to use the language and cultural life of one’s choice; Family and marriage rights; Consumer rights; Right to expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair administrative action; Right to access Justice; Rights of arrested persons; Right to a fair hearing; Rights of persons detained, held in custody or imprisoned.

Social and Economic Rights
Right to highest attainable standard of health; Right to accessible and adequate housing and reasonable standard of sanitation; Right to be free from hunger and adequate food; Right to clean and safe water; Right to social security; Right to education

Equality and freedom from discrimination; Freedom and security of the person; Freedom from slavery, servitude and forced labour; Freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion; Freedom of expression; Freedom of the media; Freedom of movement and residence;

Rights of special groups
Rights of Children; Rights of persons with disabilities; Rights of the Youth; Rights of Minority and Marginalized groups and Rights of older members of society. Read together with Interpretation clause - Article 260

Source: The Proposed Constitution of Kenya (Published by the A.G on 6th May 2010 in accordance with section 34 of the Constitution of Kenya Review Act [No. 9 of 2008])

This analysis should provoke you as a responsible Kenyan to read the draft constitution to know the exact content of the rights and freedoms.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Enforcement of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms in the Proposed Constitution
One area of reform that legal practitioners have proposed is in regard to Judicial Enforcement of Fundamental rights and Freedoms. They have generated reforms after interacting with the current constitution premised on Section 84 of the Constitution. The major handicaps revolve around four thematic areas

• Question of standing – who can bring a case in court to enforce fundamental rights and freedoms

• Question of jurisdiction of the High Court to enforce Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and the administrative Constitutional Division of the High Court.

• Question of enforcement when then the Chief Justice has not published Rules on enforcement.

• Enforcement of remedies after successful cases.

The Proposed Constitution has adequately addressed these historical concerns. The foundation (in my reading of the draft) nothing should stand in the way of Kenyans who seek to enforce their constitutional rights. Recall that rights are inherent and are not granted by the state, we are born equal, and wonderfully in the image of God I dare add. Rights are to be enjoyed at all times without restriction or discrimination. The enforcement mechanism is straight forward and will lead to greater enjoyment of rights.

Let us now examine how the draft proposes to address the above concerns.

Who can enforce rights and freedoms?
In other words who can go to court and complain, thus seek assistance (remedies), that a right or freedom has been or is under threat of violation? Every person whose right has been denied, violated or infringed, or is threatened can go to court, Article 22(1). In addition, Article 22 (2) sets out other persons or association that can institute proceedings.

In which court do you enforce the rights and freedoms?
The High Court – Articles 23(1) and 165(3) (c). Article 23(2) provides that parliament shall enact law to give subordinate (lower) courts original power to hear such cases. This will reduce the back log of cases at the High Court and ensure cases are heard within a short period.

Absence of rules to enforce fundamental rights and freedoms
The Chief Justice shall make rules under Article 22(3) of the proposed Constitution. The criteria for the rules is set out which includes the requirement that no fees is charged for taking such a case to court. Article 22(4) states that the lack of rules does not limit anyone from going to court. This is because in the past the Chief Justice had refused to make the rules with the intention of denying Kenyans the right to go to court.

Article 23 (3) sets out the remedies that the court may give.

Be informed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tolerance: what we mean.

The debate on tolerance and consensus has animated the current civic debate on the proposed constitution. As i dug into my academic archives, i came across an article by Prof Lutz Simon entitled Faith and the dilema between tolerance and arbitrariness in society and politics. Prof Simon presented the paper as in Germany as Njeri Kabeberi was awarded the inaugural "Prize for outstanding commitment to law and justice", in Germany.

There are several lessons we can share from the article on tolerance. He begins on the basis that faith in God is absolute but the excercise of one's faith should not promote an intolerant attitude towards those of a different faith or opinion. This foundation is true for the believer and non-believer.

Tolerance means getting to know the other person's religious persuation, accepting it but that without examining one's own faith in a way as to call into question such faith or some of its essential elements.

Tolerance nevertheless must not advocate arbitrariness on part of the individual. It must not make one's faith a puppet of political, ethical, social or cultural interests estranged from faith. Prof Simon concludes by emphasizing that it is indeed possible to live as a multi-religious society.

Tolerance calls for acceptance not assimilation. Critical point to note is that in demanding tolerance one must excercise it. This is critical to the point made before, that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. Rights cannot be claimed in ignorance of the duties required by law, of the state and individuals to give full effect to those rights.

Tolerance is required for peace, love and unity in a democratic and free Kenya.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

African Female Lawyers required by the ICC

International Criminal Court is undertaking a campaign to recriut more female lawyers from Africa. The lawyers will have the rare opportunity to respresent victims and defendants at the court. It is a worthwhile opportunity to practice International Criminal Law and contribute to the pursuit of international justice.

For details visit:


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Address by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, delivered an address on Developing Trust through Respect for Human Rights yesterday. The Commissioner discussed the following issues.
  1. Constitutional reform as a stepping stone for attainment of freedom, justice and social well being.
  2. Comprehensive police reforms.
  3. The ICC investigations based on the 'most responsible' policy, with emphasis for an independent, credible and efficient national judicial mechanism to try 'minor offenders' / 'foot soldiers'.
  4. Support for the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to foster communal reconciliation and restore dignity of victims.
  5. Crucial role of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to investigate, report, document and recommend prosecution for human rights violations.
  6. Protecting witnesses of crimes, activists and human rights defenders.
  7. Support for the African Commission's ruling on the Endorois.
Read full text on:

However my concern is that the government is not taking the above concerns seriously, the reform pace is too slow. Visitors come and go and the situation does not change. Notwithstanding the constitution other crucial amendments are on 'slow mode'. We can do better, i believe we can. That is why Maneno H.R exists.

Respect for Human Rights, the way to a united nation

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Advent of 'Haki Yetu' Era in Kenya: Rights with responsibility

Since the 2007 elections in Kenya, and the violence that followed, the phrase 'haki yetu' has gained wide acceptance and application. Nevertheless it is coupled with misuse when rights are claimed yet they do not exist. I find it weird that even children will shout 'haki yao' when they have no idea about the rights purportedly claimed.

In Human rights, discourse there exists rights holders and duty bearers. The state takes primary responsibility in promoting and protecting fundamental rights and freedoms, citizens have their part - claim rights with manners. Section 70 of the Kenyan Constitution and Articles 27 to 29 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, are clear on the duties of citizens. In principle citizens must respect the rights of other human being and promote tolerance.

I don't buy the framework of 'haki yetu' in its present form. That is why Kenyans will burn vehicles, kill neighbours, steal, and mutilate infrastructure all in the name of rights. It is not a surprise that the University of Nairobi is still closed for undergraduate students. That is why we will 'demonise' the government on corruption yet we are TKK people all the way without a coma, from our door steps.

While i verily believe in fundamental rights and freedoms, lets not blow things out of proportion. In the non-violence movement of Mahatma Gandhi, the principle was to respect all just laws and only disrespect unjust, draconian and discriminatory laws. If we uphold the rights of others, the government will respect our collective rights. Citizens lets all be warned, we have a duty.

Spread the word, Cheers.

Monday, June 7, 2010

ICC Review Conference in Kampala: Is Kenya Serious

Last week's events at the ICC review conference in Kampala puts in serious doubt the government's commitment in ensuring that perpetrators of Post-election violence are put to account. But i believe that the presence of two opposing parties in government-PNU and ODM is serving as a check on any attempts to delail the process. We hope that justice will suffice for victims.

The efforts to boost the ICC Trust Fund are progressive, for victims compensation.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Marginalised communities in the Draft Constitution 2010

Marginalised communities have faced gross violation of their individual and group rights coupled with marginalisation in governance and representation. The much publicised and adjudicated plight of the Endorois and Ilchamus/Njemps communities is a critical indicator. The Endorois who after exhausting local remedies in our national courts proceeded to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, atleast secured a favourable and landmark judgement.

The proposed constitution published by the Attorney General on 6.05.2010 recognioses the unique circumstances of marginalised communities and guarantees their rights. To begin with, the term 'Marginalised Community' is well defined in Article 260. The preamble recognises the fact of our ethnic, cultural and ethnic diversity. In vesting all sovereign power on the people of Kenya in Article 1, it should be read to include Marginalised communities.

Article 10 recognises the protection of marginalised communities as one of the national values that Kenyans hold dear as the guiding light to our coexistence. Article 11 recognises culture as Kenya's foundation and imposes a duty on the state to promote all forms of national and cultural expressions. The article should be read together with Article 44 on on the right to lunguage and culture. Article 11(3) also provides that parliament shall enact legislation to ensure communities receive royalties for the use of their culture. According to Article 261(1) and the Fifth Schedule, parliament must do so within five years.

Article 19(2) provides that the purpose of recognising and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is to preserve the dignity of communities and promotion of social justice. Article 21(3) imposes a duty on state organs and public officials to address the needs of, among others, members of minority or marginalised communities and members of ethnic, religious and cultural communities.

On substantive rights, members of marginalised communities are entitle to all rights under the bill of rights, Articles 26 to 57, in the same manner and style as other kenyan citizens. However Article 56 addresses the rights of minorities and marginalised groups. The state shall put in place measures to ensure that such groups participate in governance, enjoy educational and economic life and access employment opportunities. In addittion Article 56 provides for the development of cultural practices, and ensure the provision of water, health services and infrastructure for these communities.

Chapter five on Land and Environment expressly recognises community land in Articles 61 and 63. Chapter eleven on devolved government will ensure that county governments allow communities to enjoy and manage their affairs and chart their development agenda without reliance on the central/national government. The shared functions for County governments under the Fourth Schedule will ensure that the pressing concerns for marginalised communities.

The proposed constitution is a major stride for marginalised communities in Kenya and a model for the African region.

Stephen Wandeto
Human Rights Lawyer and Student at the Kenya School of Law

Proposed Constitution of Kenya 2010

The Attorney General of Kenya Published the Proposed Constitution of Kenya on May 6 2010. The people will vote on the draft in a referendum on August 4 2010. Since publication, the draft has beed surrounded by numerous facts, myths, roumours and controversies. Maneno Human Rights urges kenyans to read the draft and seek basic explanations fron legal experts.

Stephen Wandeto

Rights of Indigenous communities in Kenya: the strugle continues.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR)delivered a judgement in favour of the Endorois community against Kenya. This came after a decade of advocacy both at the national and international level. Indigenous communities are at a vulnerable position compared to other sections of society. In Kenya such communities include the Borana, Endorois, Elmolo, Gabra, Ilchamus, Maasai,Pokot, Rendille, Samburu, Sengwer, Turkana and Watta. Indigenous Communities are exhibit the following characteristics in varying degrees:
1. Close attachment to ancestral land for economic, cultural and religious practices.
2. Customary and social institutions.
3. Indigenous lunguage.
4. Self-identification as a distinct cultural group.
5. Traditional knowledge and resources.

It is critical that the state,human rights organisations, members of other indigenous communities in Kenya and Africa and friends of marginalised communities work together to implement the ACHPRs recommendations.

Stephen Wandeto