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Kenya

https://www.idea.int/democracytracker/

July 2023

Death toll rises in Kenya’s ongoing cost-of-living protests

The death toll in Kenya’s ongoing cost-of-living protests rose sharply in July, as planned tax increases prompted renewed demonstrations and violent clashes between protesters and the police. No official tally of the fatalities was released by the government, with police reportedly instructed not to report them but, as of 21 July, civil society organisations had documented 27 fatal police shootings between 7 and 19 July. The police’s use of live ammunition and teargas to disperse stone-throwing protesters has given rise to allegations that use of force was excessive. Rights groups also alleged that the police beat protesters and arbitrarily arrested and detained them. Such allegations are not new in Kenya, where police brutality is widespread (130 police killings were reported in 2022), however there is growing civil society concern about the tactics employed by the police, including the use of armed plain clothes officers at protests. The cost-of-living protests began in March 2023.  

Sources: The East African, Kenya Human Rights Commission, United Nations, Amnesty International, Missing Voices,  Associated Press News, Daily Nation

February 2023

Supreme Court rules that refusal to register LGBTQIA+ organisation was unconstitutional

On 24 February, Kenya’s Supreme Court ruled that the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) must be allowed to register as an NGO. Upholding decisions by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, it found that the refusal of Kenya’s NGOs Coordination Board to register the NGLHRC was unconstitutional on the grounds that it limited the right to freedom of association based on sexual orientation. In its judgement, the Court clarified that the country’s penal code does not permit such a limitation because, while it criminalizes same-sex sexual acts, it does not criminalize homosexuality. The decision was welcomed by the NGLHRC, whose executive director said, ‘at a time where the Kenyan LGBTQIA+ community is decrying the increased targeting and violence, this decision affirms the spirit and intention of the Constitution to protect all Kenyans and guarantee their rights.’ However, it has been met by fierce criticism from politicians and religious leaders, who characterised it as a threat to Kenya’s moral values.

Sources: Kenya Supreme Court Judgement, National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Pink News, The Africa Report

December 2022

Resignations from the IEBC as an investigation begins

The split within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) during the 2022 election continues to have implications for the future of the institution. On 2 December, following a recommendation from the National Assembly, President Ruto suspended the four commissioners (Juliana Whonge Cherera, Francis Mathenge Wanderi, Irene Cherop Masit and Justus Abonyo Nyang’aya) who had disputed the official results of the election, and appointed a tribunal to investigate allegations of misconduct. After this, three of the suspended commissioners resigned, thus avoiding participation in the investigation. Masit did not resign and appeared before the tribunal in late December. The tribunal is expected to conclude on 27 January. The remaining three members of the IEBC will conclude their non-renewable six-year term in January 2023, meaning a complete replacement of the IEBC commissioners may take place.

Sources: The East African, The Standard, Garowe Online, The Africa Report, Nation

October 2022

Ground-breaking prosecution of Kenyan police for 2017 election violence

In a decision described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as “ground-breaking”, Kenyan prosecutors charged twelve police officers with crimes against humanity for their role in the violent suppression of post-election protests in 2017. According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the violence that followed resulted in 94 deaths, 201 cases of sexual violence and more than 300 injuries, most of which it attributed to the security forces. The charges include rape, murder and torture and are the first under Kenya’s International Crimes Act. It is also the first instance in which electoral-related sexual violence has been criminally prosecuted in Kenya. Newly inaugurated president, William Ruto, has vowed to reform the security sector in order to end the enduring problem of security force violence in the country and in October disbanded the Special Services Unit, a 20-year-old police unit accused of extrajudicial killings and torture.        

Sources: The Guardian, UN, Anadolu Agency, The Citizen, Human Rights Watch, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (1), Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (2)

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GSoD Indices Data 2013-2022

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Basic Information

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Population Tooltip
54 985 700
System of government
Presidential system
Head of government
President William Ruto (since 2022)
Head of government party
United Democratic Alliance (UDA)
Electoral system for lower or single chamber
First Past the Post
Women in lower or single chamber
23.4%
Women in upper chamber
30.9%
Last legislative election
2022
Effective number of political parties Tooltip
7.54
Head of state
President William Ruto
Selection process for head of state
Direct election (two-round majority, with minimum regional distribution of the vote needed to win in first round)
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) date
23/01/2020
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) percentage of recommendations supported
82.45%
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Human Rights Treaties

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State Party State party
Signatory Signatory
No Action No action
United Nations Human Right Treaties
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
State Party
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
State Party
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
State Party
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
State Party
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
State Party
Convention on the Rights of the Child
State Party
International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
No Action
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 
Signatory
International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
State Party
International Labour Organisation Treaties
Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
No Action
Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
State Party
Equal Remuneration Convention
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Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
State Party
Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment
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Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
State Party
Regional Treaties
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
State Party
in
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Performance by category over the last 6 months

Representation neutral Representation
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Representation neutral Rights
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Representation neutral Rule of law
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Representation neutral Participation
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Global State of Democracy Indices

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Explore the indices
Representation
Representation
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/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rights
Rights
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rule of Law
Rule of Law
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high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Participation
Participation
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4

Factors of Democratic Performance Over Time

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