Independent UN human rights expert on Thursday called political authorities and candidates running in next month’s general election to push for an enabling civil space to ensure a peaceful vote, and prevent violence.
“Civil space, public participation, fundamental freedoms, and a violence-free environment are essential to promote inclusive engagement in the electoral process, and the exercise of political rights,” the experts emphasized in a press release from the United Nations human rights office OHCHRas the East African nation prepares to go to the polls on August 9.
Political tensions during the campaign, as well as hate speech by candidates and their supporters, have the dangerous potential to stoke the flames of violence, experts say.
They urged all parties to uphold the rights to political participation, freedom of assembly, opinion and expression, and respect for the role of an independent judiciary.
Code of Ethics
“Everyone involved in the electoral process must commit to peaceful behavior before, during and after elections. Candidates and political parties must refrain from using inflammatory language that can lead to violence and human rights violations, especially against women, persons with disabilities, LGBTIQ+ individuals or ethnic groups,” they said.
Kenya has a history of contested elections and political violence, marked by human rights abuses, including loss of life, as well as sexual and gender-based violence, experts note.
In the aftermath of 2007 ballot, more than 1,000 people killed and 350,000 displaced in ethnic riots. The two rival presidential candidates Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were summoned to International Criminal Court (ICC) facing charges of crimes against humanity. Charges were eventually dropped against Mr Kenyatta, and Mr Ruto’s case was dropped.
Lack of accountability
“The perpetrators who committed human rights violations in the last election were cannot be held accountablethe experts noted.
Concerned about the repercussions of repeated violence during previous elections that denied the right to political participation – particularly for women candidates and voters – independent experts are urging Kenyan authorities to ensure everyone can participate freely in the electoral process, without discrimination.
At the same time, activists, human rights defenders, election monitors, and journalists must be allowed to work without intimidation or reprisals. “They play an important role during elections to contribute to a free and inclusive electoral process and the credibility of the results,” recalled the experts, welcoming the commitment of the authorities to refrain from cutting off communications during the election period.
Leading candidates are former Prime Minister Raila Odinga who has been backed by a former rival and current president, Mr Kenyatta, and Mr Ruto, who is the current vice president.
Kenya’s electoral law requires presidential candidates to win more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright. This presidential election will be Kenya’s third under the constitution passed in 2010.
The independent human rights experts who issued the statement received their mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Councilbased in Geneva.
They operate in their respective capacities and are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.
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Respect for key fundamental rights peaceful elections in Kenya: UN expert
Source link Respect for key fundamental rights peaceful elections in Kenya: UN expert