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The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) is a treaty, drafted in 1954 and adopted in 1966 by the United Nations General Assembly. It mainly focuses on the provision of political and civil rights of citizens in the signatory states, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electro rights and the right to fair trial. As a part of the International Bill of Human Rights, it has 74 signatories. It is monitored by the Human Rights Committee, which meets three times each year in Geneva (United Nations Treaty Collections, 2012).
Articles in Focus (6-17)
For the purpose of this essay, keen interest will be taken, regarding articles six (6) through seventeen (17) of the covenant; with an aim to analyze their application situation in one of the member states, which has ratified this covenant (International Criminal Court, 2012). Article 6 deals with the recognition of the individual’s inherent right to life. It requires member states to take measures to reduce infant mortality, increase life expectancy and abolish arbitrary killings, usually done by military and other security forces. Death penalty is optional, but options for abolishment are provided. Article seven prohibits cruel treatment, torture and inhuman treatment in any circumstance, or for the purpose of scientific or medical experimentation without consent. Article eight prohibits slavery and forced labor in all situations. Article nine protects the right to liberty and security. Article ten requires dignified treatment of persons, deprived of their right to liberty as for the case of prisoners. Article eleven prohibits imprisonment to be used in breach of contract cases. Article twelve gives the freedom of movement, while thirteen prohibits arbitrary expulsion of aliens. Article fourteen allows right to fair trial, and article fifteen protects convicted persons from retrospective liability. Article 16 provides for every state to recognize anyone as a person before the law, and article seventeen protects the privacy of persons, especially sexual privacy (International Criminal Court, 2012).
The Case of Kenya
Kenya is a significant case to review, due to the interesting occurrences in its last forty years since its independence from Britain in 1963.
- An ongoing case in the International Criminal Court, pertaining to serious violations of fundamental human rights in 2008, with the accused persons being high ranking political figures who were then senior government officials
- Multiple amendments to the original constitution with specific adjustments to comply with ICCPR
- Attainment of a new constitution in August 2010.
Kenya became party to the ICCPR in 1972, and signed and ratified ICCPR in 1990. Kenya has made efforts to ensure compliance with the ICCPR in various concerns. However, there have also been several issues, pertaining violations of ICCPR, especially with regard to gender equity, fundamental human rights violations as well as, more recently, legislation on sexuality and homosexual communities. In a letter to the human Rights Committee, dated March 11, 2005, the Human Rights Watch group published a case of severe violation of women’s property rights in accordance with articles 12, 16 and 17 (Laws of Kenya, 2012). Women in Kenya were denied equal property rights, thereby, violating articles 12 and 17, which prohibit unlawful eviction from one’s property as well as the resulting denial of the right of choice of residence for women.
Kenya’s new constitution, which was promulgated on 22nd of August, 2010,addressed article six, protecting every citizen’s right to life and prohibiting denial of this right except, as laid down in article 26 section 3, in certain cases as allowed by other written law. This has been seen as a potential to allow capital punishment, which is prohibited in article seven of ICCPR. Kenya, however, has enacted requirements of ICCPR, regarding articles seven, eight, nine and ten. A case in mind is a current criminal case against four Kenyans in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, committed after the 2007 presidential elections in Kenya, where more than 1000 lives were lost in post election political chaos. This shows Kenya’s commitment to the Rome statute and the ICCPR.
Article 39 of the Kenyan Constitution provides the freedom of movement in accordance with ICCPR (p. 29). Kenya lacks express legislation, regarding expulsion of aliens as stipulated in article thirteen of ICCPR. Page 34 of Kenya’s constitution provides right to fair trial and appeal in accordance to article fourteen. Major judicial reforms in Kenya, as well as creation of an independent judicial service commission, have enabled enactment of article sixteen. A case in consideration is a current presidential suspension of the country’s Deputy Chief Justice for allegations of misconduct pending investigations into the case. It is noted that the court system has granted the accused a reprieve from being probed, allowing her to be heard before the President’s directive can be effected. This shows that the court system treats everyone equally (Laws of Kenya, 2012).
It is a personal opinion that Kenya has made considerable advancement pursuant to the ICCPR. Major achievements are in enactment of a new constitution in year 2010, which is in line with articles 6-17. Some sections that must be reviewed are the penal code with regard to capital punishment and the sexual privacy legislation, which currently bans homosexuality. Kenya is a leading example in Africa in conformity with requirements of ICCPR, but there is still more it can do to promote human rights (Laws of Kenya, 2012).
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