Kenya: United Nations experts urge government and business to uphold human rights
During the visit, the experts met representatives of Government, business, and civil society to discuss opportunities and challenges
In all of these instances, it is the poorest and most vulnerable members of society who are most exposed and affected
The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights is urging the authorities in Kenya to turn ideals set out in the 2010 national constitution into action that ensures businesses respect human rights.
“Kenya has the advantage of a solid legal framework for action, and the Government must first of all step up efforts to ‘walk the talk’ to translate existing legislation into practice,” said Anita Ramasastry, chairperson of the Working Group.
During the visit, the experts met representatives of Government, business, and civil society to discuss opportunities and challenges presented by the State’s commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
“We have been appalled to hear about the harsh working conditions of plantation workers, often paid below the minimum wage, and to witness the hardship and devastation caused by a preventable dam breach in Solai, Nakuru. We have also been very concerned by lead contamination in the Owino Uhuro settlement in Mombasa,” said Michael K. Addo, the other member of the visiting expert group.
“In all of these instances, it is the poorest and most vulnerable members of society who are most exposed and affected,” he added.
In a statement at the end of their 10-day visit, the experts noted that the challenges ahead would require concrete action by both national and county governments, including steps to ensure meaningful consultation and transparency in the assessment of environmental and social impacts of business projects.
The experts also encouraged the government to move forward with regulations relating to registration of community land and other efforts to provide clarity on land rights and certainty for communities and the private sector.
“We welcome the commitment of the Government to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights to address gaps and shortcomings in current practice, and we hope that our preliminary observations will help this process,” Ms Ramasastry concluded.
The Working Group’s final report, including findings and key recommendations, will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).