“Closing Space for Civil Society and Media in East Africa: Forging a Collaborative Response”
23 February 2018 (Nairobi, Kenya)
We, more than 60 civil society organisation and media representatives from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda working on human rights, democratic development, transparency, digital media, women and youth empowerment, legal aid, litigation and other issues of public interest are gathered in Nairobi to express our firm resolve to stand together in solidarity as civil society and media.
We will remain vigilant against threats to civic space. We commit to collaborate and provide support to each other through individual and joint efforts at the national and regional levels to combat shrinking space.
We note with concern a trend of closing civic space in the three East African countries characterized by increasing impunity. This has been evidenced by repressive tactics perpetrated by state and non-state actors, including among others:
We are cognizant that shrinking civic space is not unique to the region but is contextualised by the decline in democratic ideals globally. Governments seem to adopt repressive tactics from each other and use similar justifications to shrink civic space including national security prerogatives and promotion of accountability within the media and civil society sectors.
Further, as civic space advocates, we note that a repressed civic environment adversely affects not only civil society organisations, the media and ultimately other sectors, but also the ordinary citizen, and leads to cultural, economic, political and social decline of a society.
As a coalition, we have identified areas in which joint interventions are necessary and have developed regional strategies and interventions to maintain and claim civic space. We resolve:
At the national level, we identified several initiatives to enhance civil society organisations and media cooperation including establishing ongoing dialogue platforms, developing joint capacity building initiatives, building trust, addressing mutual security concerns online and offline, and mitigating risks.
We will engage with other actors including academia, professional associations, young people, and state institutions, to cultivate a broader understanding and appreciation of the role of civil society and media in a democratic society.
We pledge to continue collaborating towards ensuring a safe and enabling space for civil society and media in East Africa.
[The civil society and media leaders were convened for a two- day strategic workshop hosted by the Civil Society Reference Group, a Kenyan coalition whose role is to protect and enhance an independent and effective civil society voice and agency for public benefit, and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), a US-based organisation that has provided technical expertise on laws that govern civil society in over 100 countries worldwide and more than 20 in Africa.]
The Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York is opening a new Call for Nominations for the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. The Centre is planning to host up to eight defenders who are expected to stay in York for 3-6 months. New Fellows are expected to start in York in mid-September 2018 or in special circumstances in early January 2019.
Nominations for female human rights defenders are particularly welcome. For specific information on eligibility criteria and an overview of the Scheme, please see attached documentation.
Nominations are accepted from recognised civil society organisations and/or organisations working specifically with human rights defenders.
All the documentation should be sent together in one email from the nominating organisation’s email account. Deadline for nominations is 23:59 GMT Sunday 15 April 2018.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit University of York’s website for more details here: https://securityofdefendersproject.org/artisticwork-en/
The State of Privacy in Kenya is the result of an ongoing collaboration by Privacy International and the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya.
Key Privacy Facts
1. Constitutional privacy protections: Article 31 of the Kenyan Constitution specifically protects the right to privacy.
2. Data protection law: Kenya does not currently have specific data protection legislation. However, a Data Protection bill was tabled in Parliament in 2015.
3. Data protection agency: Kenya does not have a specific data protection authority.
4. Recent scandals: Kenyan and international civil society groups report high levels of extrajudicial surveillance.
5. ID regime: The Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS) collects data from a dozen databases held by various government agencies.
Article 31 of the Constitution specifically protects the right to privacy. It states:
“Every person has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have—
(a) their person, home or property searched;
(b) their possessions seized;
(c) information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed; or
(d) the privacy of their communications infringed.”
Furthermore, Article 2 states that Kenya’s international obligations, such as its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which include privacy rights, are part of Kenyan domestic law. It states:
“(5) The general rules of international law shall form part of the law of Kenya.
(6) Any treaty or convention ratified by Kenya shall form part of the law of Kenya under this Constitution.”
Kenya is a signatory to or has ratified a number of international conventions with privacy implications, including:
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) regulates the telecommunications industry and collects statistics on the sector. Mobile penetration was recorded at 86.2 % in March 2017, with 39.1 million mobile subscriptions. There were an estimated 40.59 million internet users in Kenya in March 2017, representing an internet penetration rate of 89.4% according to the CA.
Social media is widely used in Kenya. Kenya is reported to have over 5 million active daily Facebook users, and 693,000 confirmed active users on Twitter, according to a study by Ogilvy, an advertising and public relations firm.
The Kenya Information and Communications Act (2009), penalises the unlawful interception of communications by service providers. Article 31 states:
“A licensed telecommunication operator who otherwise than in the course of his business—
(a) intercepts a message sent through a licensed telecommunication system; or
(b) discloses to any person the contents of a message intercepted under paragraph ; or
(c) discloses to any person the contents of any statement or account specifying the telecommunication services provided by means of that statement or account, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding three hundred thousand shillings or, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both.”
Article 83 states:
“(1) Subject to subsection (3), any person who by any means knowingly:—
(a) secures access to any computer system for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, any computer service;
(b) intercepts or causes to be intercepted, directly or indirectly, any function of, or any data within a computer system, shall commit an offence.”
Article 93 (1) states:
“No information with respect to any particular business which—
(a) has been obtained under or by virtue of the provisions of this Act; and
(b) relates to the private affairs of any individual or to any particular business,
shall, during the lifetime of that individual or so long as that business continues to be carried on be disclosed by the Commission or by any other person without the consent of that individual or the person for the time being carrying on that business.”
Read the full report here: https://privacyinternational.org/node/1005
The Protection Programme aims to develop appropriate preventative and intervention strategies for the protection of HRDs, including community-based activists working on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, independent journalists, environmental activists and women’s rights activists. In addition to analysing HRDs’ working environment on an ongoing basis and developing security strategies accordingly, protection programme staff undertake risk assessment and fact-finding missions on reported cases of threats and violations of HRDs’ rights, to ensure the safety of HRDs and bring those responsible to justice.
Typical protection interventions for HRDs at risk include:
a) Legal Support“]The protection programme offers legal assistance to HRDs who are arbitrarily arrested and maliciously prosecuted by providing them with advocates to represent them at places of detention and in court or provides bail. NCHRD-K also undertakes trial observation of cases that involve HRDs to ensure that the judicial process is free and fair.
b) Medical Support“]Medical support is offered to HRDs/activists who are injured or fall sick due to their work. Medical support either covers the payment for medical services and/or medicine for HRDs and their families.
c) Psychosocial Support“]Psychosocial support caters for the wellbeing of those HRDs who have been emotionally affected by their work. HRDs who are exposed to incidences of torture, gender-based violence, assault or extra-judicial executions, to name but a few of the most serious human rights violations that HRDs fight against, often find that their work is taking a toll on their emotional wellbeing. NCHRD-K engages the services of counsellors offer counselling support in such situations.
d) Relocation“]Protecting those HRDs whose work has exposed them to threats and high levels of risk, often requires that they be relocated. This is normally a short-term measure put in place while other strategies are pursued. Relocation can be local, regional or international, depending on the gravity of the case. During such periods of absence from routine work, NCHRD-K often arrange for the affected HRD to be attached with another organization to ensure human rights work is not disrupted or to gain some skills.
NCHRD-K’s Capacity Building Programme aims to ensure that HRDs develop the necessary skills….. to effectively defend human rights in their respective areas, such as women’s rights, children’s rights, or environmental rights. A second, key component of the capacity-building programme aims to help HRDs develop highly effective security management techniques to ensure their own safety. In addition, the programme aims at developing a train the trainer (TOT) programme to complement the work of the Secretariat staff in meeting the training needs of HRDs. Finally, to ensure successful collaboration with its service providers NCHRD-K trains them on how to recognize and respond to the needs of HRDs and on NCHRD-K’s own work on and with HRDs.
a) Skills Training“]The Capacity Building Programme trains HRDs and organisations throughout Kenya on issues such monitoring, documenting and reporting on human rights violations; how to mobilise resources, including through fund-raising; how to use information and communication technology for their human rights work; and how to use the national, regional and international human rights systems, including through litigation. All these trainings are offered on the basis of HRDs and organisation identifying themselves the need for training and approaching NCHRD-K to provide for the same. More specifically, the following training are offered.
b) Issue-based Training“]In conjunction with the Advocacy Programme, NCHRD-K provides training on emerging issues that require rapid and widespread knowledge sharing and mobilization. Topical trainings complement skills trainings by providing HRDs with the opportunity to approach interpret and employ knowledge about specific issues by using a broader range of skills, such as communication and advocacy skills.
c) Security Management Training“]Our security management training stems from the recognition that no one organisation can develop the capacity to fully provide for HRDs’ protection needs, and hence that HRDs must play an active role in ensuring their own security. To that end, NCHRD-K provides both security management training on its own, and makes security management a cross-cutting issue in all the other trainings that it has. In the latter case, we aim to tailor security considerations specifically to the other topics being discussed.
The Advocacy Programme strives to achieve a conducive legal and policy environment for HRDs in Kenya, including through coordinating and harmonizing our advocacy interventions with those undertaken by our partners. In addition, we also initiate and carry out advocacy around specific cases of HRDs that have been identified in conjunction with Protection Programme staff as being in need of complementary measures that go beyond immediate protection responses. The programme approach include:
a) Advocacy on policy and legislation“]NCHRD-K conducts advocacy at the national and county levels by engaging with individual lawmakers and law-making bodies to gain support for the development of policy and legal framework conducive to the protection of rights of HRDs in Kenya.
b) Networking and partnerships“]A key aspect of NCHRD-K’s advocacy is the creation of networks and linkages with stakeholders and other actors. This approach has enabled NCHRD-K to improve knowledge-sharing and increase skill-expertise, with a positive impact on the ability to influence actors who are in a position to effect changes in the situation of HRDs. NCHRD-K’s national and county networks, for example, enable it to cover the whole country, and monitor developments in the situation of HRDs and feed that information in advocacy strategies in real time.
c) Media and communication“]Media is an important tool for reaching and sensitising the public on current affairs, and for mobilisation. NCHRD-K spreads its messages to communities and HRDs at the national and county level through vernacular and community based radio stations. NCHRD-K also plans to roll out regional and international TV and radio interviews to highlight the status of HRDs in Kenya. The NCHRD-K has also embraced advances in communication technology to reach wider audiences through its website (www.hrdcoalition.org) and social media.
d) Research and Documentation“]Through the monitoring, documenting and reporting carried out by its regional and county representatives, NCHRD-K is able to map out trends in threats and risks to HRDs in Kenya and human rights violations perpetrated against them, and feed that accordingly both in direct protection measured and advocacy strategies.