CBA’s SIRD Project supports toll-free helpline to report human rights violations in Kenya

Ayokunle Ogundipe

Protests against heavy handed policing have taken centre stage globally in recent weeks, forcing difficult conversations about the disproportionate use of force by police against ethnic minorities. The calls for reform are louder and closer to home than many might have originally thought. Yet the prevalence of police brutality in developing countries is surging for altogether different reasons.

In Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania --- where CBA is implementing the SIRD project in partnership with the countries’ respective law societies (and with funding from Global Affairs Canada) – combined COVID-19 cases reportedly number just above 5,000, with a good number of those being recovered cases. Nevertheless, stringent lockdown regulations, underlying inequalities, and barely concealed tendencies towards state control have exacerbated human rights infringements by law enforcement and other opportunistic actors.

In the months since pandemic policing went into effect, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has noted a significant uptick in a range of human rights violations, including: wrongful death, disproportionate use of force, wrongful arrests and forced quarantine, assault and intimidation of journalists, gender and sexual based violence, illegal evictions, and illegal demolitions of homes. On June 8, LSK, in partnership with SIRD, launched a campaign themed “Stop Human Rights Violations” – through the provision of a dedicated toll-free hotline number.

LSK President Nelson Havi launched the hotline and received the first official call on the line. He urged survivors of human rights abuses and witnesses to call in to the hotline to report violations to their rights and fundamental freedoms. He also assured the public that LSK and the SIRD project are poised to act on their behalf whenever allegations of rights violations are reported to the hotline.

The launch was also attended by the CEO of LSK, Mercy Wambua, members of LSK’s Governing Council, SIRD’s Canadian Field Regional Manager Alnoor Meghani and SIRD Kenya Project Manager Suzy Kimutai.

CBA’s Supporting Inclusive Resource Development in East Africa (SIRD) project is a 5-year initiative with funding from Global Affairs Canada, which seeks to increase sustainable economic growth for East Africans, particularly women affected by extractive sector operations. In recent times, the project has broadened its programming focus to respond to COVID related human rights abuses.

Ayokunle Ogundipe is Project Manager in CBA International Initiatives.

People sitting and standing around a table
Participants mark the launch of the LSK/SIRD toll free hotline