OPINIONPeople Daily

Kenya human rights groups need reinvention

On Monday this week, Kenya joined the rest of the world in celebrating the International Day of Human Rights. This is usually a solemn occasion that accesses the state of human rights globally.

Celebrated on December 10 every year, the day marks the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly, in 1948.

The declaration encompasses a broad range of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. In Kenya, high-levels of both poverty and corruption rank high up on the list of grievances.

However, human rights lobbyists have focused more on politics. They have perennially pushed the government to a corner on claims of selected human rights abuses. This includes the so-called extrajudicial killings of criminals, and scaling down of violent political protests.

While human rights lobbyists radar is always aware of gender violence, they rarely express extreme anger as children continue to be violently abused and violated. I guess it is a case of where their bread is buttered!

We must take human rights holistically. I’m not exonerating the government for being occasionally high- handed. Unfortunately, our corrupt Judicial system leaves the police with no option but to totally eradicate hardened criminals to avoid further loss of innocent lives. 

I believe it comes as no shock to human rights lobbies that they long lost relevance and support of the general population. They have failed to empathise with those that have lost loved ones in the hands of ruthless non-State actors.

The rule of law, and the establishment of order in society override the rights to privilege. Criminals cannot be handled with gloved hands in order to please external interests. It is the wearer of the shoe who knows where it hurts most.

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So Safaricom is not a dominant player? That verdict by statutory regulator Communications Authority of Kenya must have been based on extraneous considerations, other than the facts and reality on the ground.

Last weekend, the lives of thousands of Kenyans came to a standstill as M-Pesa service experienced downtime, grounding the money transfer service for several hours.

Many consumers and business people were totally stuck as they could not pay their bills for various goods and services. You dread to imagine what would happen if someone hacked into the M-Pesa platform, and messed the facility for a couple of days.

We cannot begrudge Safaricom’s market leadership in Kenya’s Big Telco. But truth be told, “The Better Option” has left Kenyans without any comparative advantage in their choice of service provider.

Due to its pioneering position and massive State patronage, Safaricom has become a monolith. While competition is cheaper, there are still few takers because they lack an efficient national telecommunications infrastructure.

Industry players need to revisit this issue and reverse the earlier declaration. Consequently, Safaricom must be coerced into ceding some ground in order to stop choking competition.

This includes sharing its infrastructure with other players, particularly that which it inherited from the defunct public owned Telkom Kenya. The government must release the majority of Kenyans from Safaricom’s stranglehold by propping up the other companies. – The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst. [email protected]

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