Kenya: Big Four, BBI Will Secure Civil Rights, Kenya Tells UN

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) in a show of unity with Deputy President William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga, during the launch of the BBI report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on November 27, 2019.
28 January 2020

Kenya is citing the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the Big Four Agenda as crucial steps Nairobi is taking to protect civil rights.

In defence of its human rights record, Kenya's delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva says the two programmes are suited to sort out some of the problems Kenya has perennially been accused of ignoring.

The Big Four Agenda, the government says, is a development plan where resources will be dedicated "to improving the living standards of Kenyans, grow the economy and enhance food security."

With food, manufacturing, affordable housing and healthcare, officials reckon the plan could help dissuade people from crime by helping provide some of their basic needs.

Head of delegation Ababu Namwamba, also the Cabinet Administrative Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said the Big Four is seen as a "unique platform for enhancing enjoyment of the socio-economic rights of all Kenyans in the pursuit of universal healthcare, affordable housing, food security and manufacturing to grow the economy and expand job opportunities for Kenyan youth."

Fronted in 2018 as part of President Uhuru Kenyatta's legacy project, the government intended to use the Big Four as a basis for improving manufacturing to create jobs, better food production, improve access to health care as well as access to housing.

Although the projects have mostly suffered from financial constraints, officials argue they will continue as focus shifts to seeking private investors to fund them.

The explanation is part of a report filed to the UN body by Mr Namwamba and his delegation that includes Senior Deputy Solicitor General Maryann Njau Kimani and Head of Corporate Communications at the National Police Service Charles Owino.

The report was submitted as part of Kenya's obligations under the UN Human Rights Council to a Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review.

BBI

Mr Namwamba also cited the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), the brainchild of President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, as an initiative that will improve Kenya's political environment by changing certain laws.

Officials said this will be "a historic initiative spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta to place Kenya on a trajectory of peace, unity, stability and shared prosperity for all 47 million people of Kenya."

But like the last periodic review in 2015, Kenya was coming to the Council with a blot of corruption.

Transparency International, the global graft watchdog, last week ranked Kenya at position 137 out of 180 countries. TI indicated graft in government service provision, brutal police and a general clampdown on civil rights had contributed to Kenya's poor record.

"The government of Kenya remains committed to fighting corruption in Kenya," Kenya says in the report.

"In January 2019, the GOK together with its partners launched the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan III. The Partnership presents an opportunity for the GOK to ensure transparency and accountability of the Big 4 Agenda, ensure citizen participation, and facilitate cost-efficient delivery and use of digital solutions to achieve outcome."

GENDER GROUPS

Reporting to the Council is a voluntary step governments took from 2003.

Although the resolutions may be non-binding, governments routinely present reports to the Council to stay in the good books of the international community.

Kenya has also cited the 2019 census after the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics added intersex persons as the third gender.

But its missed its pledge from 2015 of ensuring the two-thirds gender rule as provided for in the Constitution was implemented to ensure political seats do not have more than two thirds from one gender.

The law has been missed thrice before, with Parliament failing to pass recommendations.

There is another attempt through the Representation of Special Interests Group Law (Amendment) Bill 2019, which the Kenyan delegation says could finally see the country jump the hurdle.

With human rights watchdogs criticising police brutality, officials said Kenya's new counter-terrorism policy will put protection of civilian lives at the forefront as it engages communities to avoid a repeat of attacks seen since 2015.

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