KNCHR is mandated by Section 8 of the KNCHR Act of 2011 to monitor, investigate and report on the observance of human rights in all spheres of life in the Republic of Kenya and on its own initiative or on the basis of complaints, investigate or research a matter in respect of human rights, and make recommendations to improve the functioning of State organs.
It is with the strength aforementioned that the Commission initiated a public inquiry on security and human rights in North Rift Kenya from May 9th to run through June 10th 2016. The inquiry will receive testimonies through public seating and camera sessions with an aim of ensuring that residents of the areas affected are able to share experiences that will not only call for accountability but also embrace dialogue, peace and reconciliation. Areas targeted include Marigat, Yatia, Bartabwa, Chemolingot, Kapedo, Kainuk, Lokichar and Orwa.
The purpose of the inquiry is to unearth the systemic human rights violations experienced in the area, raise public awareness and promote the debate on the obligations of the state as to the right to security of persons and property.
Further, the inquiry targets to draw national attention to the human rights situation of the victims of the conflict and highlight the link between the North Rift conflict and the threat to terror in other parts of the country and the role this plays in deepening the insecurity countrywide. It is our expectation that recommendations that will be captured in our final report will help in the promotion of durable solutions to the question of insecurity.
Legal Basis of the Inquiry
The Constitution of Kenya underscores the importance of recognizing and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and goes further to provide frameworks for ensuring the protection and promotion of all human rights consistent with the national values that underpin the democratic governance of the country. Article 29 states that every person has the right to freedom and security of the person which includes the right not to be subjected to any form of violence from either public or private sources.
The Constitution further establishes a number of institutions to protect the sovereignty of the people, secure observance by all state organs of democratic values and principles and promote constitutionalism. One such institution is Kenya National Commission on Human Rights mandated to promote the observance and promotion of Human Rights in the country.
In furtherance of this mandate, KNCHR has investigated the violence in the region on several occasions as indicated earlier and made findings including the need to conduct a more comprehensive inquiry into the conflict and violence. The previous investigations can thus be treated as preliminary investigations. The inquiry which seeks to respond to the systemic nature of the violations can be deemed further investigations and is thus hinged on section 8 (d) of the KNCHR Act which mandates the Commission to investigate complaints of alleged violation of human rights and take steps to secure appropriate redress.