Summary D. Summary (analysis, trends)

Kenya’s responses to COVID-19 have been mainly defined by the Executive, with extensive powers conferred on the President, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government. With regard to human rights, the responses have overtly limited the select list of human rights analysed in this report. The most obvious form of limitation has been the omission of some of the human rights concerns in the COVID-19 prevention strategies. For example, the guidelines tend to be generalised rather than comprehensive enough to cater for the diverse societal needs. Consider for instance the clumping together of ‘vulnerable groups’ in the policies or emergency funding yet the pandemic not only heightened vulnerability among those classified as so like children, the elderly, women, marginalised communities, youth, persons with disabilities and refugees but created new avenues for vulnerability such as loss of income due to closure of workplaces or reduced working hours. Further, the prevention strategies were not alive to the contexts that prevailed before the pandemic. For instance, most parts of Western Kenya experience annual catastrophic floods. Even so, the government still offered reactive support to the victims of the flood during the period under review. Broadly, in terms of the limitation of the select human rights, it is instructive to note that the pandemic did not necessarily change the status quo rather the same violations that occurred prior to the pandemic have been exacerbated since the start of the pandemic.    

Local and international non-governmental organisations, community organisations, activists and well-wishers among the general public have filled the voids occasioned by the government’s human rights violations in view of their pandemic prevention strategies. They have filled the voids through advocating accountability (street protests and online activism). They have distributed food, clothing, masks, sanitisers to the forgotten groups such as street families. They have monitored and reported on violations and recommended guidelines for improved anti-pandemic responses which comply with human rights standards. Most of these reports have specifically targeted a particular group in the society for instance sex workers, journalists, bloggers, elderly women. Most law firms have reviewed all the major legal notices and orders issued by the government, which have culminated into popular versions of the legislations.




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