Kenya at 50: Unrealized rights of minorities and indigenous peoples

Type Book
Title Kenya at 50: Unrealized rights of minorities and indigenous peoples
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Publisher Minority Rights Group International
To mark Kenya’s 50th anniversary of self-rule, this report
reviews the current status of minority and indigenous
groups in Kenya. Focusing on Kenya’s 2010 Constitution,
this report pays particular attention to how legal and
policy changes over the last five years have responded to
the social, economic and political challenges confronting
Kenya’s new Constitution is a progressive document that
aims to address the failed legal and moral systems created by
earlier colonial and postcolonial regimes. The country’s
previous constitutional order alienated most citizens from
the state, but minority and indigenous communities have
borne the brunt of this exclusion. Further, this system
reproduced and strengthened differences between Kenya’s
diverse groups – mainly ethnic and religious – rather than
building a pluralistic society that tolerates all shades of
diversity based on equality before the law.
The present state of minority and indigenous groups
within Kenya’s dynamic context has been shaped by
conflicting forces of regression and progress responding to
the 2007 post-electoral violence, the new Constitution
and the forthcoming 2012 elections. This report
demonstrates both the opportunities to be seized and
constraints to be overcome by minority groups if they are
to realize the dream of inclusion.
Although Kenya’s new Constitution contains
numerous positive provisions for minorities and other
vulnerable groups generally, this report shows that the
prevailing experience of minorities in Kenya is increased
vulnerability. This means that although policy recognition
of minorities is an important gain, legislative and
administrative implementation remains a challenge. There
is a danger that constitutional recognition may not
translate into positive developments for minority groups
in reality. The report describes the ongoing challenges
facing minority and indigenous groups: lack of political
participation, discrimination and weak protection of their
right to development.
Responding to the deep-seated disempowerment of
minorities on the one hand and the opportunities
presented by the new constitutional framework on the
other, the report recommends that principles of
multiculturalism should be established in every sector of
society, including in education. It urges the Kenyan
government to facilitate the political participation of
minorities and put a stop to targeted police harassment of
minority groups in the country.
Directed at non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
policy actors and the media, the report warns that failure
to ensure inclusion of minorities and address the anxieties
of majorities, particularly in the context of county
governments in the run-up to the 2012 elections and
beyond, will lead to untold conflict, driving the reform
agenda several years back.

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