Kenya has pledged to work closely with the African Court on Human and People’s Rights to facilitate access to justice.
This follows a visit to Kenya by a delegation from the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (otherwise known as ‘the Court’) who met the Standing Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights (JLAHRC), chaired by Bomet Senator Hillary Sigei at parliament buildings.
A source from parliament intimated that the primary focus of the visit was to engage in dialogue about the current state of human rights implementation and enforcement in Kenya.
The Court is a Pan-African institution endorsed by the continent’s nations mandated to safeguard human and people’s rights across Africa.
It serves as an enhancement to the work undertaken by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights by cementing its commitments and rulings.
During the consultative meeting, the Court’s president Lady Justice Imani Adoud pointed out two significant obstacles faced by the Court in the execution of its mandate.
The first is the disappointingly small number of state parties that have officially recognized the Court’s competency to receive direct cases from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals.
The second challenge she cited is the lack of implementation of the Court’s judgements and decisions by the relevant states.
In response, Senator Sigei pledged that the JLAHRC will liaise with the Executive and key stakeholders to ensure that Kenya ratifies the necessary instruments that would permit individuals and NGOs to approach the Court directly.
He also committed to bolstering the implementation of the Court’s decisions within the country.
Drawing attention to the Committee’s past interactions with the Court, Senator Sigei cited the Ogiek case, saying the decision on the case was instrumental in informing the Committee’s assessment and resolution of a Petition raised by the Torobeek community of Kenya.
Sigei added thatthe JLAHRC had recently evaluated the Economic and Social Rights Bill, which incorporated elements from the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Importantly, Senator Sigei reminded all in attendance that as per Article 5(2) of Kenya’s Constitution, international law, including ratified human rights treaties and conventions, now form part of the nation’s legal fabric.
The delegation from the Court is in Kenya for a three-day sensitization visit. Over the course of their stay, they have scheduled meetings with several key Kenyan figures including president William Ruto, Chief Justice Martha Koome, Speakers of both the National Assembly and Senate and Foreign and Diaspopra Affairs CS Alfred Mutua.
They are also set to meet Roseline Odede, the Chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, before attending a joint meeting of the Committees on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the National Assembly and Senate.
Joining Senator Sigei in the meeting were Senators Veronicah Maina and Raphael Chimera.