OPINIONPeople Daily

Regional peer review spot on but first be accountable to citizens

Violations of civil liberties across the world enhanced the need for legislative frameworks to govern promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights by states and individuals.

Consequently, a number of international and regional instruments have been developed and signed by States who are bound to uphold the standards set out therein.

Ratification or domestication of international and regional instruments is only but a commitment made by member states and means nothing if they are not willing to implement the standards they purport to abide by.

Monitoring mechanisms are thus put in place to hold states accountable for human rights violations that occur within their borders and ensure that they uphold their obligations to protect, promote and fulfil human rights standards.

For instance the Universal Periodic Review within the Human Rights Council requires Member States to the UN Charter to submit a report on state progress on implementation of fundamental human rights.

Kenya came up for review in January 2015. Within the African context, first the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples Rights was established through the Africa charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

Kenya ratified it in 1992, and the charter aims at promoting and protecting human rights and basic freedoms in Africa. Signatory States Parties are required to submit a report on the legislative or other measures taken, with a view to giving effect to the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed by the Charter every two years.

Kenya submitted a combined report on March 11, this year covering the period 2008 to September 2014 which shall come up for review during the 57th session of the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in November.

The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a self-monitoring mechanism was established in 2002 through the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance.

This is a mutually agreed programme, voluntarily adopted by the member states of the African Union, to promote and re-enforce high standards of governance.

This year, the APRM summit will be held in Kenya on September 10-11, where countries who have signed on to the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance periodic reviews will assess progress being made towards ensuring that the policies and practices of participating countries conform to the agreed values in democracy and political, economic, corporate governance and socio-economic development.

As citizens, we welcome the need for accountability by the state to member States at international and regional level. However, the State also needs to be accountable to the citizens and this can be made possible through sensitisation and publicity of Kenya’s review processes under the various mechanisms to enable meaningful public participation to not only follow discussions but to also contribute by highlighting the human rights situation in their countries through various fora. The writer is a human rights lawyer.

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