Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
There were numerous allegations the government or its agents committed arbitrary and unlawful killings, particularly of known or suspected criminals, including terrorists. On September 7, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Independent Medico Legal Unit reported 114 cases of individuals killed by police between January and August, including 101 individuals who were allegedly executed extrajudicially and 13 individuals who were killed in unclear circumstances. Some groups alleged authorities significantly underestimated the number of extrajudicial killings due to underreporting of security force killings in informal settlements, including those in dense urban areas. From January to September 22, IPOA received 62 complaints regarding deaths resulting from police actions, including 28 fatal shootings involving police and 34 deaths due to other actions by police. Of these, IPOA referred one to the ODPP, based on conclusive investigations. From the 7,169 complaints IPOA received against police since its inception, authorities were trying 30 cases as of October 25.
In July the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report documenting 34 cases of individuals who disappeared and 11 cases of individuals found dead after allegedly being taken into custody by security forces during counterterrorism operations in Nairobi and the country’s northeast region between December 2013 and December 2015. According to the report, law enforcement authorities did not meaningfully investigate these deaths and disappearances. The report attributed many of the human rights abuses to the Kenya Defense Forces in the northeast counties of Mandera, Garissa, and Wajir bordering Somalia.
In July, four police officers were charged with the homicides of International Justice Mission (IJM) investigator and lawyer Willie Kimani, IJM client Josphat Mwenda, and their driver Joseph Muiruri; the three went missing after Kimani filed a case against a police officer on behalf of Mwenda. Their severely tortured bodies were recovered from a river a week later. The case prompted demonstrations by lawyers and members of civil society across the country calling for an end to extrajudicial killings by police. In September a fifth police officer was charged. The trial continued at year’s end.
Impunity remained a serious problem (see section 1.d.).
Al-Shabaab terrorists conducted deadly attacks and guerilla-style raids on isolated communities along the border with Somalia. There were numerous cases of terrorist abuses, including the killing of at least six persons in Mandera County on July 1 by suspected al-Shabaab terrorists who attacked two commercial buses and the killing of 12 persons in Mandera County by al-Shabaab terrorists in an attack on a hostel.
Observers and NGOs suspected members of the security forces were culpable of forced disappearances. On the August 30 commemoration of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, 15 international and local human rights organizations released a joint press statement calling on the government to acknowledge the practice of abductions by security agencies. The statement also reported that human rights organizations documented more than 300 cases of individuals who had gone missing while in the hands of security agencies since 2009. The Star, a daily newspaper, reported on August 31 that more than 100 citizens had disappeared during the year, and it cited NGO Haki Africa claims of 78 killings and enforced disappearances in the prior two months in Mombasa County. In July, HRW reported 34 suspected cases of enforced disappearances (see section 1.a.).
Several members of parliament representing northeastern and coastal constituencies noted their constituents reported cases of disappearances.
There were also separate media reports of families on the coast and in northeastern counties searching for relatives who disappeared following arrest and of authorities holding individuals incommunicado for interrogation for several weeks or longer (see section 1.d.).
While the constitution and law prohibit torture, the legal code does not define torture and provides no sentencing guidelines for violating the constitutional and legal prohibitions. These gaps functionally prevent prosecution for torture. Police reportedly used torture and violence during interrogations as well as to punish both pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. According to human rights NGOs, physical battery, being tied up in painful positions, and electric shocks were the most common methods of torture used by police. A range of human rights organizations and media reported cases of torture and indiscriminate police beatings committed with impunity. For example, local media widely reported in July on leaked autopsy results from murdered IJM investigator and lawyer Willie Kimani, IJM client Josphat Mwenda, and their driver Joseph Muiruri that revealed the three were tortured to death by police officers, including by physical beating and strangulation (see section 1.a). HRW’s July report documented six cases of serious abuse of detainees that appeared to amount to torture that allegedly took place in military camps and bases in Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera Counties. The Standard daily newspaper reported on September 15 that a High Court awarded five million shillings ($50,000) in compensation to four civilians who suffered permanent disabilities through physical beating and gunshot wounds inflicted by Kenya Defense Forces soldiers in Garissa in 2012.
On April 2, according to an IPOA report, police officers from the General Service Unit deployed to the University of Nairobi entered academic and dormitory buildings, evicted, and assaulted an estimated 30 students with batons. Many students sustained serious injuries from police batons, including bone fractures (see section 1.f.).
In late May and early June, police used violent and at times deadly force against demonstrators denouncing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (see section 3).
There were reports security forces deployed to quell ethnic violence committed abuses (see section 6).
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Human rights organizations reported in 2015 that prison, detention center, and police station conditions were harsh due to overcrowding, food and water shortages, and inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care. Overall, health care improved during the year due to the Kenya Prisons Service’s enhanced capacity to respond to the health-care needs of inmates.
Physical Conditions: The Kenya Prisons Service reported a prison population of 53,841 as of August, more than 90 percent of which were men. The country’s 108 prisons had a designed capacity of 26,687 inmates. While the Prisons Service noted that 10 more facilities were built to improve capacity, with more than five others under construction, serious overcrowding was the norm. Authorities continued a “decongestion” program that entailed releasing petty offenders and encouraging the judiciary to increase utilization of the Community Service Orders program in their sentencing.
The Kenya Prisons Service reported 50 deaths as of August 5, mostly from natural causes, representing a dramatic reduction from previous years, which the service attributed to improvements in prison health services.
Between January and June, IPOA observed that authorities separated women from men in detention facilities 81 percent of the time in the 46 detention facilities its representatives visited. In smaller jails female prisoners were not always separated from men. There were no separate facilities during pretrial detention, and sexual abuse of female prisoners was a problem. Conditions for female inmates in small, particularly rural, facilities were worse than for men. Human rights groups reported that police routinely solicited sex from female prisoners and that many female inmates resorted to prostitution to obtain necessities, such as sanitary items and underwear, which the Prisons Service did not provide.
Authorities generally separated minors from adults except during the initial detention period at police stations, when authorities often held adults and minors of both sexes in a single cell. Between January and June, IPOA observed that only 16 percent of the detention facilities visited included separate housing for juveniles. In the same period, IPOA observed that only 4 percent of detention facilities inspected had child protection units. Minors often mixed with the general prison population during lunch and exercise periods, according to the Coalition for Constitutional Interpretation, a domestic NGO. Prison officials reported that because there were few detention facilities for minors, authorities often had to transport them very long distances to serve their sentences, spending nights at police stations under varying conditions along the way.
The law allows children to stay with their inmate mothers in certain circumstances until age four or until arrangements for their care outside the facilities are concluded, whichever is earlier.
Prisoners generally received three meals a day, but portions were inadequate. The Prisons Service stated in August that it no longer served a penal diet for punishment. Water shortages, a problem both inside and outside of prison, continued. Sanitary facilities were inadequate. Prisoners generally spent most of their time indoors in inadequately lit and poorly ventilated cellblocks. This was especially true for the more than one-third of inmates awaiting trial, as they were not engaged in any work programs that would allow them to leave their cells regularly.
Administration: Recordkeeping on prisoners remained inadequate despite the enactment and entry into force in 2014 of the Security Laws Amendment Act. The act requires improved recordkeeping at prisons and jails. The Prisons Service took steps to improve recordkeeping, including engaging with prison reform NGOs and IPOA, and to conduct training and improve practices.
Mechanisms for prisoners to report abuse and other concerns improved due to collaboration between the Prisons Service and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) to monitor human rights standards in prison and detention facilities. By law the Commission on the Administration of Justice serves as ombudsman on government administration of prisons. It is to receive and treat as confidential correspondence from inmates and recommend remedies to address their concerns, including those pertaining to prison living conditions and administration. Government-established special committees, which included paralegals and prison officials, also served to increase prisoners’ access to the judicial system. The Legal Aid Center of Eldoret noted there was no single system providing “primary justice” to prisoners and detainees, who instead relied on a patchwork of services largely provided by NGOs. Many government-designated human rights officers lacked necessary training, and some prisons did not have a human rights officer.
Noncustodial community service programs and the release of some petty offenders alleviated somewhat prison overcrowding. The total prison population did not decrease substantially, however, because of unaffordable bail and bond terms for pretrial detainees, high national crime rates, overuse of custodial sentencing, and a high number of death row and life-imprisoned inmates. Legal rights NGOs and prison officials reported overuse of the charge of “robbery with violence,” which may carry a life sentence, without sufficient evidence to support it. Some petty offenders consequently received disproportionately heavy sentences.
Prison officials sometimes denied prisoners and detainees the right to contact relatives or lawyers. Family members who wanted to visit prisoners commonly reported bureaucratic obstacles that generally required a bribe to resolve. According to the Legal Resources Foundation, prisoners had reasonable access to legal counsel and other official visitors, although there was insufficient space in many prisons and jails to meet with visitors in private and conduct confidential conversations.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted prison visits by independent nongovernmental observers.
Improvements: Overall health care in prisons improved due to strengthened capacity to respond to health-care needs. A Directorate of Health Services was established in the Prisons Department to oversee health and hygiene issues, and prison and detention facilities added more health professionals. A program was launched to provide care for inmates with HIV/AIDS and improve tuberculosis diagnoses, important factors in decreasing morbidity and mortality. The Prisons Service opened its first facility exclusively for juvenile female offenders–the Kamae Girls Borstal Institution at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Kiambu County, which can accommodate up to 200 girls ages 15 to 17.
The law prohibits arrest or detention without a court order unless there are reasonable grounds for believing a suspect has committed or is about to commit a criminal offense. Police, however, arrested and detained citizens arbitrarily, accused them of more severe crimes than they had committed, or accused them of a crime to mask underlying police abuses.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
The National Police Service (NPS) maintains internal security and is subordinate to the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government (Interior).
The NPS includes the Kenya Police Service and the Administration Police Service. The Kenya Police Service is responsible for general policing and maintains specialized subunits, such as the paramilitary General Services Unit, which is responsible for responding to significant and large-scale incidents of insecurity and guarding high-security facilities. The Administration Police Service’s mandate is border security, but it also assumed some traditional policing duties. The Directorate of Criminal Investigation is an autonomous department responsible for all criminal investigations and includes specialized investigative units, such as the Antinarcotics Unit, the Antiterrorism Police Unit, and the Forensics Unit.
The National Intelligence Service collects intelligence internally as well as externally and is under the direct authority of the president.
The Kenya Defense Forces are responsible for external security but have some domestic security responsibilities, including border security and supporting civilian organizations in the maintenance of order, as allowed by the constitution. The defense forces are subordinate to the Ministry of Defense. In September 2015 the defense forces and police launched a coordinated operation to drive al-Shabaab terrorists out of the Boni Forest in northern Lamu and southern Garissa Counties; the operation continued as of October.
The National Police Service Commission (NPSC) and IPOA, both government bodies, report to the National Assembly. The NPSC consists of six civilian commissioners, including two retired police officers, as well as the NPS inspector general’s two deputies. Two commissioner positions remained vacant despite requests from the NPSC and public pressure to fill those positions. The NPSC is responsible for recruiting, transferring, vetting, promoting, and removing police officers in the National Police Service. IPOA investigates serious police misconduct, especially cases of death and grave injury at the hands of police.
Impunity was a major problem. Authorities sometimes attributed the failure to investigate a case of police corruption or unlawful killing to the failure of victims to file official complaints. Victims could file complaints at regional police stations, police headquarters through the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU), and through the IPOA website and hotline. Sometimes police turned away victims who sought to file complaints at police stations where alleged police misconduct originated, and instead directed them to other area stations. This created a deterrent effect on reporting complaints against police. NGOs documented threats against police officers who attempted to investigate criminal allegations against other police officers.
Police corruption remained a significant problem. Human rights NGOs reported that police often stopped and arrested citizens to extort bribes; they jailed, on trumped-up charges, those who could not pay and sometimes beat them. During police vetting conducted by the NPSC, multiple police officers were exposed as having the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in their bank accounts, far exceeding what would be possible to save from their salaries. Mobile money records showed that some officers also transferred money to superior officers. Media and civil society groups reported that police used illegal confinement, extortion, physical abuse, and fabricated charges to accomplish law enforcement objectives as well as to facilitate illegal activities.
Police failed to prevent vigilante violence in numerous instances but in other cases played a protective role (see section 6, Other Societal Violence or Discrimination).
Poor casework, incompetence, and corruption undermined successful prosecutions; the overall conviction rate for criminal prosecutions was between 13 and 16 percent. Police also frequently failed to enter detainees into custody records, making it difficult to locate them. Dispute resolution at police stations resolved a significant number of crimes, but authorities did not report or record them, according to human rights organizations.
Witness harassment and fear of retaliation severely inhibited the investigation and prosecution of major crimes. The Witness Protection Agency was underfunded, doubts about its independence were common (see section 4), and the Supreme Court cited its weaknesses as a serious judicial shortcoming. It cooperated closely with IPOA and other investigative bodies.
Human rights activists reported that at times police officers in charge of taking complaints at the local level were the same ones who committed abuses. Police officials resisted investigations and jailed some human rights activists for going to a police station to make a complaint. In August, Kayole police chief Ali Nuno allegedly assaulted and detained an IPOA officer sent to deliver to him a summons for an investigation into allegations of Nuno’s abuse of office.
Research by a leading legal advocacy and human rights NGO found police used disciplinary transfers of officers to hide their identities and frustrate investigations into their alleged crimes. Many media and civil society investigations into police abuse ended after authorities transferred officers, and police failed to provide any information about their identities or new whereabouts.
During the year police accountability mechanisms, including those of IPOA and the IAU, increased their capacity to investigate cases of police abuse. The IAU acting director reported directly to the inspector general of police. Close to 70 officers served in the unit, mostly investigators with a background in the Kenya Police Service and the Administration Police Service. The IAU handles allegations of bribery, harassment, and indiscipline.
Between January and June, IPOA received six reports of deaths and one report of serious injury caused by NPS officers, which is legally required to report all deaths to IPOA. IPOA repeatedly expressed its concern about the lack of compliance with this legal requirement. Since its inception in 2012, IPOA had received 219 reports of deaths in addition to 89 reports of serious injuries.
The ODPP is empowered to direct the inspector general to investigate any information or allegation of criminal conduct and to institute criminal proceedings in police abuse or corruption cases.
Between January and June, IPOA received 1,326 complaints, bringing the total since its inception to 7,835. In the same six-month period, IPOA completed 94 complaints, 13 of which were death cases. In the previous four years, IPOA completed 321 cases and referred 66 to the ODPP for prosecution. Of those 66 cases, 35 cases were before the courts. In April IPOA secured its first manslaughter conviction, against two police officers who killed a 14-year-old girl in Kwale in 2014.
The NPSC continued transitional vetting of all serving police officers. Vetting required an assessment of each officer’s fitness to serve based on a review of documentation, including financial records, certificates of good conduct, and a questionnaire, as well as consideration of public input regarding allegations of abuse or misconduct. By September the NPSC had vetted nearly 3,000 officers, of whom 919 were vetted during the year. All of the officers vetted during the year were from the traffic department, which has a reputation for extensive corruption. Nearly 50 officers were removed from the service based on 2015 vetting. Removals based on the year’s vetting had not been announced as of October 25. Some legal challenges brought by officers vetted out of the service continued in court.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
The law provides police with broad powers of arrest. Police officers may make arrests without a warrant if they suspect a crime occurred, is happening, or is imminent. Victims’ rights NGOs reported that in some cases authorities required victims to pay bribes and to provide transportation for police to a suspect’s location to execute a legal arrest warrant.
The constitution’s bill of rights provides significant legal protections, including provisions for persons to be charged, tried, or released within a certain time and for issuing a writ of habeas corpus to allow a court to determine the lawfulness of detention. In many cases, however, authorities did not follow the prescribed time limits. According to the attorney general in a response to a questionnaire from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2013, “an unexplained violation of a constitutional right will normally result in an acquittal.” While authorities in many cases released the accused if held longer than the prescribed period, some cases did not result in an acquittal, and authorities provided no compensation.
Police used excessive force in some cases when making arrests. Some officers were charged and convicted for use of excessive force during the year. For example, in a case reported by every major domestic newspaper in 2014, police officers in Kwale shot and killed a 14-year-old girl while searching for a suspect in her residence. Police claimed she confronted them with a machete. According to press reports, an eyewitness, who subsequently went into hiding, claimed police shot her without provocation. Two police officers stood trial for the homicide, and in March a high-court judge found them both guilty of manslaughter; they were each sentenced to prison for seven years.
The constitution establishes the right of suspects to bail unless there are compelling reasons against release. There is a functioning bail system, and all suspects, including those accused of capital offenses, are eligible for bail. Many suspects remained in jail for months pending trial because of their inability to post bail. Due to overcrowding in prisons, courts rarely denied bail to individuals who could pay it, even when the circumstances warranted denial. For example, NGOs that worked with victims of sexual assault complained that authorities granted bail to suspects even in cases in which there was evidence that they posed a continuing threat to victims.
Although the law provides pretrial detainees with the right to access family members and attorneys, family members of detainees frequently complained that authorities permitted access only upon payment of bribes. When detainees could afford counsel, police generally permitted access to attorneys.
Arbitrary Arrest: Police arrested and detained persons arbitrarily. Victims of arbitrary arrest were generally poor young men. Human rights organizations complained that security forces engaged in widespread arbitrary arrests and detentions during counterterrorism operations and targeted ethnic Somalis and Kenyan Muslims. On the August 30 International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances, human rights activists in Mombasa asked the National Assembly to address the issue of arbitrary arrests and murder (see section 1.a.).
Pretrial Detention: Lengthy pretrial detention was a serious problem and contributed to prison overcrowding. Some defendants were held in pretrial detention longer than the statutory maximum term of imprisonment for the crime with which they were charged. The government claimed the average time spent in pretrial detention was 14 days, but there were reports many detainees spent two to three years in prison before their trials were completed. Police from the arresting locale are responsible for bringing detainees from prison to court when hearings are scheduled but often failed to do so, forcing detainees to wait for the next hearing of their cases (see section 1.e.).
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: The law entitles persons arrested or detained to challenge in court the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention; that right was not always protected in practice.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Reform of the judiciary continued during the year. The judiciary demonstrated independence and impartiality, but there were media and other allegations of significant judicial corruption. Authorities generally respected court orders, and the outcomes of trials did not appear to be predetermined.
The Judicial Services Commission–a constitutionally mandated oversight body intended to insulate the judiciary from political pressure–provides the president with a list of nominees for judicial appointment. The president selects one of the nominees for parliamentary approval. The president appoints the chief justice and appellate and High Court judges through this process. The commission publicly reviews judicial appointees.
The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, established in 2011 to determine the suitability of judges and magistrates to hold office, completed its vetting and submitted its final report to the president on September 6. The board proposed to the president the formation of an independent disciplinary tribunal to receive complaints against judicial officers and make recommendations for appropriate action. In the final report, 44 percent of Court of Appeal judges, 15.9 percent of High Court judges, and 4.7 percent of magistrates were found unsuitable.
There were several allegations of judicial corruption. In January the Judicial Service Commission asked the president to form a tribunal to investigate claims that Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi received an estimated 200 million shillings ($2 million) to influence an election petition opposing Nairobi’s governor. In February the president suspended the judge and appointed the tribunal, which ended its proceedings in June on the grounds that it lacked a legal mandate to investigate the judge after he retired at age 70, as required by law.
The constitution gives the judiciary authority to review appointments and decisions by other branches of government. Parliament sometimes ignored judicial decisions. For example, on August 27, a High Court deadline expired for parliament to enact legislation to implement the constitutionally mandated two-thirds gender principle (see section 3).
The law provides for “qadi” courts, which adjudicate Muslim law on marriage, divorce, and inheritance among Muslims. There were no other traditional courts. The national courts used the traditional law of an ethnic group as a guide in personal matters as long as it did not conflict with statutory law.
The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, although individuals may give some testimony in closed session; the independent judiciary generally enforced this right. The law provides for a presumption of innocence, and defendants have the right to attend their trials, confront witnesses, and present witnesses and evidence in their defense. The law also provides defendants the right to receive prompt and detailed information of the charges against them, with free interpretation if necessary; to be tried without undue delay; to have access to government-held evidence; and not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Authorities generally respected these rights, although they did not always promptly inform persons of the charges against them. Sentencing Policy Guidelines, a policy document drafted by the Judicial Task Force on Sentencing, was launched by the chief justice on January 25. The Active Case Management Guidelines, developed to improve prosecution procedures, were gazetted (announced via official publication) on February 29 and implemented as a pilot project in four courts as of September. A randomized bench selection system was partially implemented within the Court of Appeal to avoid the public perception that parties with vested interests could influence the composition of a bench of judges.
Trial delays sometimes resulted because witnesses failed to present themselves, judges cancelled trial dates without notice, witnesses were not protected, or legal counsel failed to appear. Authorities generally respected a defendant’s right to consult with an attorney in a timely manner, although there was no public defenders service. Defendants generally had adequate time to prepare a defense if they were capable of doing so. The government and court generally respected these rights. The Legal Aid Act enacted in June established the National Legal Aid Service to facilitate access to justice and promote pro-bono services for indigent defendants who cannot afford legal representation. The National Council on the Administration of Justice was working to implement the changes as of October. Courts continued to try the vast majority of defendants without representation because they could not afford legal counsel. Legal aid was available only in major cities where some human rights organizations, notably the Federation of Women Lawyers, an international NGO, provided it.
The ODPP significantly increased the number of trained prosecutors. At year’s end there were an estimated 900 state prosecutors, compared with 200 in 2013. The ODPP phased out police prosecutors entirely. The expansion of the prosecution service also reduced delays in court proceedings. The judiciary improved its case clearance rate and substantially reduced case backlog by increasing benches of judges sitting daily.
Discovery laws are not clearly defined, handicapping defense lawyers. Implementation of a High Court ruling requiring provision of written statements to the defense before trial remained inconsistent. Defense lawyers often did not have access to government-held evidence before a trial. There were reports the government sometimes invoked the Official Secrets Act as a basis for withholding evidence.
Defendants may appeal a verdict to the High Court and ultimately to the Court of Appeal and, for some matters, to the Supreme Court.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
Individuals may use the civil court system to seek damages for violations of human rights and may appeal its decisions to the Supreme Court as well as to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. On May 5, the judiciary launched a program of Enhanced Service Delivery Initiatives to promote more efficient and affordable justice. For example, the Family and Commercial Divisions of the High Court at Milimani in Nairobi commenced a pilot Court Annexed Mediation Program to give parties an alternative forum for dispute resolution.
According to human rights NGOs, bribes, extortion, and political considerations influenced the outcomes in some civil cases. Court fees for filing and hearing civil cases effectively barred some from access to the courts.
There is no single established system of land tenure in the country: private titles compete with customary land rights and community land, while public land is vulnerable to squatters or to unscrupulous developers. There is no clear legal framework for issuing title deeds or for adjudicating land disputes because of legal disputes between the National Land Commission, vested with powers of land adjudication through the constitution and 2012 implementing legislation, and the Ministry of Lands. Plots of land were sometimes allocated twice. The Community Land Act signed into law on August 31 allows communities to apply for land registrations as a single entity and put in train the adjudication process in which their applications will be considered alongside any competing claims.
While three-quarters of the population is rural, according to the National Land Commission, only 20 percent of citizens possessed actual titles to land.
There is no established system for restitution or compensation for those declared to be squatters and ordered to vacate land. Both private and communal clashes were common because of land disputes. The government used forced eviction and demolition to restore what it claimed was illegally occupied public land. In some cases authorities arranged ad hoc restitution or relocation of residents under NGO pressure. For example, according to the Guardian on August 18, more than 200 indigenous Ogiek families on the slopes of Mount Elgon were evicted in June by police and forest rangers; activists claimed the terms for compensation payments were unclear and that the families were not resettled.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, except “to promote public benefit,” but authorities sometimes infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. The law permits police to enter a home without a search warrant if the time required to obtain a warrant would prejudice an investigation. Although security officers generally obtained search warrants, they occasionally conducted searches without warrants in the course of large-scale security sweeps to apprehend suspected criminals or to seize property believed stolen.
On April 2, according to the subsequent IPOA report, police officers from the General Service Unit deployed to the University of Nairobi; they entered academic and dormitory buildings, evicted, and then assaulted approximately 30 students with batons. The incident received extensive media coverage after a live video clip was widely shared on social media. Many students sustained serious injuries from police batons, including bone fractures. Both IPOA and the IAU initiated investigations into the events, but the investigations were frustrated by a lack of police cooperation. No charges against police officers had been filed as of October 25.
Human rights organizations reported police officers raided homes in informal settlements in Nairobi and communities in the coast region in search of suspected terrorists and weapons. The organizations documented numerous cases in which plainclothes police officers searched residences without a warrant and household goods were confiscated when residents were unable to provide receipts of purchase on demand.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
The law provides for freedom of speech and press, but the government sometimes restricted these rights.
Freedom of Speech and Expression: The constitution and National Cohesion and Integration Act prohibit hate speech and incitement to violence. Following inflammatory public comments in June, eight politicians–from both the ruling and opposition parties–were detained for several days. Four were charged with incitement to violence under Section 96 of the penal code: Member of Parliament (MP) Florence Mutua, MP Moses Kuria, MP Ferdinard Waititu, and Senator Johnson Muthama. Kimani Ngunjiri was charged with ethnic contempt under Section 62 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act. Three were charged with hate speech under Section 13 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act: MP Aisha Juma, Junet Nuh, and Timothy Bosire. The detention of senior politicians attracted considerable national attention to the problem of hate speech. The case against Muthama was dismissed on July 28. The cases against the other politicians continued as of October 25.
Press and Media Freedoms: The government occasionally interpreted laws to restrict press freedom, and officials occasionally accused the international media of publishing stories and engaging in activities that could incite violence. Two 2013 laws–the Media Council Act and the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act–greatly increased government oversight of media by creating a complaints tribunal with expansive authority, including the power to revoke journalists’ credentials and levy debilitating fines. Following the January 15 al-Shabaab terrorist attack on the Kenyan-commanded African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forward operating base in el Adde, Somalia, numerous journalists who published comments about the attack were arrested. Most were charged under Kenya Information and Communications Act (KICA) Section 29, a section of law ruled unconstitutional in April–(see Internet Freedom below).
Of the 16 other laws in place that restrict media operations, the Defamation Act, Official Secrets Act, and Preservation of Public Security Act place the most severe restrictions on freedom of the press. On August 31, the president signed into law the Access to Information bill, which media freedom advocates lauded as progress in government transparency (see section 4).
Violence and Harassment: Journalists alleged security forces or supporters of politicians at the national and county levels sometimes harassed and physically intimidated them. The government at times failed to investigate allegations of harassment, threats, and physical attacks on members of the media.
Kenyan journalists held protests in multiple cities on September 8 against police harassment of journalists. For example, three men reportedly shot and killed freelance journalist Dennis Otieno on September 7 in his home in Kitale and allegedly stole his camera and photographs covering a student demonstration over a land dispute. The protesting journalists petitioned parliament, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the inspector general of police to brief them on the status of investigations on attacks against journalists and to assure journalists that the government was taking action. The government’s response was pending as of November 7.
Most news media continued to cover a wide variety of political and social issues, and most newspapers published opinion pieces criticizing the government.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: The mainstream media were generally independent, but there were reports by journalists that government officials pressured them to avoid certain topics and stories and intimidated them if officials judged they had already published or broadcast stories too critical of the government. There were also reports journalists avoided covering issues or writing stories they believed their editors would reject due to direct or indirect government pressure. On January 6, Denis Galava, special projects editor at National Media Group, was suspended for a January 2 editorial deemed critical of the government. In March Godfrey Mwampembwa (“Gado”), a revered political cartoonist, had his contract with the Nation terminated, allegedly because of pressure from the government over Gado’s oftentimes politically sensitive cartoons. He was subsequently hired by the Standard, another leading daily newspaper.
Libel/Slander Laws: Government officials and politicians threatened and brought defamation cases against the media. Libel and slander remain criminal offenses, although authorities did not charge any journalists during the year. There were, however, several cases of High Court rulings against media houses on libel charges resulting in large awards for damages. In June the High Court awarded Justice Samuel Mukunya 20 million shillings ($200,000) in a libel suit against the Nation, and in August the High Court awarded Justice Alnasir Visram 26 million shillings ($260,000) in a libel suit against the Standard.
National Security: The government cited national or public security as grounds to suppress views that it considered politically embarrassing.
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. Authorities, however, monitored websites for violations of hate speech laws.
By law mobile telephone service providers may block mass messages they judge would incite violence. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission tracked bloggers and social media users accused of spreading hate speech.
On April 19, the High Court declared unconstitutional Section 29 (b) of the KICA (Section 29). During the year at least 16 online activists–who were highlighting cases of corruption and abuse of public office–were prosecuted under this provision with charges of “misuse of electronic equipment.” As a result of the High Court ruling on KICA Section 29, on April 29 a lower court dismissed a case against Samburu blogger John Lenkulate, who had posted online that the Samburu County government was misusing public resources.
Following the January 15 al-Shabaab terrorist attack on the Kenyan-commanded AMISOM forward operating base in el Adde, Somalia, the government arrested at least one blogger and one journalist for posting photographs and commentary about the number of Kenyan soldiers killed. Most were charged under KICA Section 29, which was overturned in April. Charges were subsequently dropped.
According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), as of September there were 37 million internet users–84 percent of the population–representing a 10 percent increase from the previous year. The total included 24.8 million mobile data subscriptions. The CAK attributed the increase to the expansion of 3G network coverage by the various mobile operators, as well as to a consistent increase in the usage of social networking sites. Mobile data expanded internet access to many less-developed parts of the country.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events. On August 21, the president signed into law the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions Bill, which promotes traditional cultural knowledge and expressions.
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY
Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly, the government sometimes restricted this right. Police routinely denied requests for meetings filed by human rights activists, and authorities dispersed persons attending meetings that had not been prohibited beforehand. Organizers must notify local police in advance of public meetings, which may proceed unless police notify organizers otherwise. By law authorities may prohibit gatherings only if there is another previously scheduled meeting at the same time and venue or if there is a perceived specific security threat.
Police used excessive force at times to disperse demonstrators. In April and May, the Kenya Police Service used excessive force to disperse nationwide demonstrations led by the political opposition coalition against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), resulting in at least 10 deaths and numerous injuries (see section 1.c.). Many human rights and civil society organizations condemned the excessive use of police force against demonstrators. IPOA’s investigation of resulting complaints continued as of early October. A lack of police cooperation frustrated IPOA’s investigation into some of the alleged abuses.
There were complaints during the year that police were available for hire by private interests to dissuade or disperse demonstrators.
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
The constitution and law provide for freedom of association, and the government generally respected this right, but there were reports that authorities arbitrarily denied this right in some cases. In at least one case, courts affirmed the right to freedom of association. In April 2015 a High Court panel decided that the national NGO Coordination Board’s inability to register the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission because homosexual sexual acts are illegal violated the constitutional right to freedom of association and ordered the board to register it; the government’s appeal remained pending as of October 25. On May 20, however, the Court of Appeal ruled the judgment of the High Court stands in the interim.
The Societies Act requires that every public association be either registered or exempted from registration by the Registrar of Societies. The NGO Coordination Act requires that NGOs dedicated to advocacy, public benefit, or the promotion of charity or research register with the NGO Coordination Board. In October 2015 the board announced its intent to deregister and freeze the bank accounts of 959 civil society organizations, including NGO Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), for reportedly failing to submit proper accounting and donor funding information. The cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, which oversaw the NGO Coordination Board, suspended the deregistration notice shortly thereafter. Per the KHRC’s legal challenge to the NGO Coordination Board’s actions, a High Court ruled on April 29 that the NGO Coordination Board’s actions were unconstitutional and “riddled with impropriety and procedural deficiencies.” On September 9, the Ministry of Devolution and Planning announced its intention to implement immediately the 2013 Public Benefits Organization (PBO) Act, an important step in providing a transparent legal framework for NGO activities. On October 19, the cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Devolution and Planning dismissed the chief executive officer (CEO) of the NGO Coordination Board and dissolved the three-member board; however, a High Court injunction subsequently reinstated the CEO and restored the board. In late November the government transferred responsibility for the NGO sector to the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, without prior stakeholder consultation. As of year’s end, the PBO Act had not yet been implemented.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation. The government generally respected these rights but increasingly enforced restrictions on refugees’ movements. The government generally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern.
Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: Police abuse of asylum seekers and refugees continued, with most reports coming from Nairobi’s predominantly Somali Eastleigh neighborhood.
Witnesses alleged security forces routinely confiscated or destroyed both expired and valid UN refugee documents and frequently demanded bribes to release persons in detention or in the process of arrest. According to media and NGO reports, police and military personnel mistreated refugees in retaliation for al-Shabaab attacks on security personnel.
The security situation in Dadaab remained precarious, although no new attacks on humanitarian workers occurred. Increased police presence in the camps led to some improvements and cooperation with refugees through community policing and neighborhood watch initiatives. Violence also occasionally flared over Dadaab host community protests about employment and priority contract rights related to the camp.
Gender-based violence remained a problem in both the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps and in Nairobi, particularly for vulnerable populations including women, children, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) refugees. Reported incidents included domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, physical assault, psychological abuse, FGM/C, and forced marriage, particularly of young Sudanese, South Sudanese, and Somali girls. Refugee communities sometimes targeted opponents of FGM/C. Health and social workers in Kakuma refugee camp reported that, due to strong rape-awareness programs in the camp, survivors increasingly reported such incidents, resulting in improved access to counseling. In the Dadaab refugee camp, however, the government’s limited effectiveness and UNHCR’s restricted access and limited ability to provide services or protection resulted in higher numbers of cases of gender-based violence and underreporting of crimes and abuse, particularly against women and girls.
While mobile courts continued to serve the camp populations, most crimes went unreported. Refugees generally dealt with criminality in accordance with customary law and traditional practices rather than through the country’s justice system. Other security problems in refugee camps included petty theft, banditry, ethnic violence, and the harassment of Muslim converts to Christianity, according to UNHCR.
In-country Movement: The country hosted a very large refugee population. Prolonged insecurity and conflict in the region forced the country to play a leading role in coping with refugee flows, especially from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Ethiopia. The government’s appeal of a 2013 High Court ruling that blocked a plan to relocate all urban refugees to camps remained unresolved. The government enforced an encampment policy, with Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps as the designated areas for refugees (see Protection below).
The government granted limited travel permission to refugees to receive specialized medical care outside the camps, to refugees enrolled in public schools, and to refugees in the resettlement pipeline. It made exceptions to the encampment policy for extremely vulnerable groups in need of protection. The government continued to provide in-country movement and exit permits for refugee interviews and departures for third-country resettlement.
From January through July, the Department of Refugee Affairs issued 2,896 temporary movement passes to refugees and asylum seekers. UNHCR reported that approximately 90 percent of the individuals returned to their camps by the time their passes expired. Authorities charged 240 refugees and asylum seekers with being unlawfully present in the country (under the Citizenship and Immigration Act) and residing without authority outside designated areas (under the Refugees Act). Of the 240 refugees and asylum seekers, authorities discharged 133 and returned them to the camps, convicted 98 and ordered them to pay fines or serve three to six months in prison, and continued the cases of nine as of year’s end.
INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS
The National Consultative Coordination Committee on IDPs (the committee) was created by the Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and Affected Communities Act of 2012 (IDP Act); however, the committee did not meet and begin to implement the IDP Act until April 2015. According to the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, in 2015 the committee completed the resettlement of more than 10,000 IDPs who remained in camps after the 2007-08 postelection violence.
Violence in Mandera County in 2014 between the communities of Mandera North District and Banisa District, and on the border between Mandera and Wajir Counties, resulted in displacement of an estimated 32,000 households. According to the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the committee provided Mandera County with financial assistance for 6,890 IDP households that had not been able to return home, and construction of new homes had commenced.
Water scarcity exacerbated communal conflict and left an unknown number of citizens internally displaced. IDPs from all locations generally congregated in informal settlements and camps. Living conditions in such settlements and camps remained poor, with rudimentary housing and little public infrastructure or services. Grievances and violence between IDPs and host communities were generally resource based and occurred when IDPs attempted to graze livestock or gather food and fuel locally. In the north IDP settlements primarily consisted of displaced ethnic Ethiopians and Somalis and were targets of clan and resource-based violence.
The Ministry of Devolution and Planning reported that citizens who had fled a 2015 security operation to flush al-Shabaab from the Boni Forest in Lamu and southern Garissa Counties returned to their homes.
PROTECTION OF REFUGEES
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has a system for providing protection to camp-based refugees. While the government generally coordinated with UNHCR to provide assistance and protection to refugees in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, cooperation was limited in urban areas. Security threats emanating from Somalia strained the government’s ability to provide security to those seeking asylum, especially in Dadaab. The government permitted registration of new refugee arrivals only during specific time periods–most recently between July and August 2015. Since that time, no registration of new arrivals took place, and there were an estimated 4,000 unregistered persons of concern, mostly from Somalia, in need of adjudication. In May the government revoked prima facie status–a group determination of refugee status–for newly arrived asylum seekers from Somalia and did not provide individual refugee status determination to new Somali refugee arrivals.
According to UNHCR, as of October the country hosted more than 500,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers: in Dadaab refugee camp an estimated 282,200, in Kakuma camp approximately 158,200, and in the Nairobi area an estimated 63,800. The unofficial estimate of refugees in urban areas was nearly 100,000. The majority of refugees and asylum seekers were from Somalia (334,728), with others coming from South Sudan (90,247), the DRC (27,485), Ethiopia (26,742), Sudan (9,790), and other countries (13,202). Most refugees arriving in Kakuma were from South Sudan, and the refugee population in Dadaab was primarily of Somali origin. New arrivals also included individuals from Burundi, the DRC, Ethiopia, and Uganda. The Somali refugee influx was lower than in previous years. In 2013 the governments of Kenya and Somalia and UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement, which expired in November; it established a legal framework and process for the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees when conditions permitted such returns. Under the agreement UNHCR began facilitating voluntary returns to Somalia in December 2014 and had supported the return of more than 30,200 Somali refugees as of October 25.
In May the government again announced that it planned to close the Dadaab camps for reasons of security and economic burdens when the tripartite agreement expired in November; however, in mid-November the government announced it would close the camp within six months. Officially, the country encouraged Somali refugees to return voluntarily to Somalia. UNHCR continued to provide both financial and transportation support to refugees voluntarily returning to Somalia. In September, NGO Human Rights Watch released a report that questioned the voluntariness of Somali refugee returns from Kenya and accused officials of violating international law by intimidating refugees into returning to insecure conditions in Somalia. In November, Amnesty International also issued a report alleging the government was forcing refugees to return to Somalia.
In addition to the May announcement of plans to close Dadaab, the government also in May disbanded the Department of Refugee Affairs and replaced it with a new Refugee Affairs Secretariat to carry out the department’s previous work.
Negotiations concerning land for a new camp near Kakuma among UNHCR, the government, and host community in Turkana County concluded in 2015. The county governor signed over land to UNHCR for the new Kalobeyei Integrated Refugee Settlement, planned to host 60,000 refugees and benefit thousands of Kenyan nationals from the host community once completed. The new model was designed, in coordination with Turkana County, to increase the economic integration of refugees with the host community and improve access to income-generating activities, education, and health care for both refugees and citizens.
No official national refugee count existed because the government stopped registering refugees in urban areas in 2012 and in Dadaab camp in 2011. In Kakuma there remained a backlog of cases for registration and refugee status determination of new refugees. This backlog was compounded when the government disbanded the Department of Refugee Affairs.
Refoulement: On November 2, the government forcibly sent South Sudanese opposition spokesman James Gatdet Dak to South Sudan, despite the risk of torture. In a statement UNHCR expressed its deep concern, noting that Dak had previously been granted refugee status by Kenyan authorities.
There were also multiple reports released by advocacy organizations alleging undue government pressure on refugees in Dadaab camp to repatriate voluntarily to Somalia and that inadequate information was provided to prospective refugees about conditions in areas of return inside Somalia.
The constitution and the 2011 Citizen and Immigration Act provide for the protection of stateless persons and for legal avenues for eligible stateless persons to apply for citizenship. In September, UNHCR estimated that 20,000 stateless persons were registered in the country; the actual number, however, was unknown. According to UNHCR stateless persons accounted for 3.5 percent of all registered refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Communities known to UNHCR as stateless included Sudanese Nubians in Nairobi, the Somali Galjeel in the Tana River area, the Mozambican Makonde in Mombasa, and the Pemba in Kwale. There were also a number of stateless persons of mixed Eritrean-Ethiopian heritage. On October 13, President Kenyatta issued a directive that the government should issue national identity cards to all eligible Makonde persons by December and ensure that members of the community are issued title deeds for land they own. The Makonde applicants had not received their cards or title deeds at year’s end.
Although legal safeguards and pathways to citizenship for stateless persons exist, the government lacked a strategy to identify and register them, significantly limiting their ability to acquire legal residence or citizenship. Stateless persons had limited legal protection and encountered travel restrictions, social exclusion, and heightened vulnerability to trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence, exploitation, forced displacement, and other abuses. UNHCR reported that stateless persons faced restrictions on internal movement and limited access to basic services, property ownership, and registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Inadequate documentation sometimes resulted in targeted harassment and extortion by law enforcement officials and exploitation in the informal labor sector.
National registration policies require citizens age 18 and older to register and obtain national identification documents from the National Registration Bureau. Failure to do so is a crime. Groups with historical or ethnic ties to other countries faced higher burdens of proof in the registration process. For example, Nubians, along with ethnic Somalis (such as the Galjeel community) and Muslims on the coast, experienced discriminatory registration policies that led to statelessness, according to UNHCR and domestic legal aid organizations (see section 3).
The deadline for stateless persons to apply to be considered for citizenship expired on August 30. Article 15(2) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011 provides that the cabinet secretary may extend that deadline for three years. It was unclear as of October if there would be an extension.
Many stateless persons did not qualify for protection under the local refugee determination apparatus. Among these were Somali refugees born in Kenyan refugee camps and Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees.
Pursuant to the 2011 finding by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child that the government should grant citizenship to children of Nubian descent, during the year the government established a vetting committee of Nubian elders to identify children of Nubian descent who are eligible for registration. As of year’s end the committee had not completed this process.
In 2013 then cabinet secretary for land charity Ngilu announced the allocation of 300 acres of public land to a private group representing the Nubian Council of Elders for the settlement of stateless persons. The cabinet secretary, however, left office before the titles were transferred, and there was no progress on this matter. The Nubian Council of Elders sought additional assistance from civil society organizations to obtain the land titles. The council asserted an ancestral claim to approximately 700 acres of land, including the large Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi. UNHCR reported that the National Action Plan to eradicate statelessness in Kenya had been completed but not yet approved by the government.