Fundamental and essential human rights in Kenya are covered in Chapter 4 of the Kenyan constitution that came into effect in 2010. The bill of rights is one of the most comprehensive in the world covering basic, social-political and economic rights. Part 2 of Chapter 4 covers rights and fundamental freedoms.
And undoubtedly, 5 of its most important provisions are the following.
1. The Right To Life
Every person has the right to life. The constitution recognises this as beginning at conception. A person shall not be deprived off life i.e. killed, murdered, or executed either by state or non-state actors unless it is under the provision of the constitution. It must be noted that the death penalty is still applicable in Kenya but has not been enforced for over 30 years. The constitution also outlaws abortion unless it is advised by a legally recognised medical practitioner to save the life of the mother or permitted under other circumstances like rape.
2. The Right To Equality And Freedom From Discrimination
The Kenyan constitution states that every person is equal before the law and shall enjoy equal protection by the law. All persons have the right to full enjoyment of essential rights and fundamental freedoms including the right to equal political, economic, social and cultural opportunities.
State and non-state actors are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.
3. The Right To Freedom And Security Of The Person
The constitution guarantees freedom and security of every person in Kenya. This includes the right not to be detained without trial by state actors unless in the case of an emergency. Every person is also protected from violence from both state and non-state actors. This includes corporal punishment, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment. The law also protects the person against torture whether physical or psychological, from private and public sources.
4. The Prohibition Of Slavery, Servitude, And Forced Labour
The law prohibits holding a person in slavery and servitude. Forced labour is also prohibited.
5. The Freedom Of Conscience, Religion, Belief, And Opinion
The constitution guarantees freedom of conscience, religion, belief thought and opinion. The freedom to worship alone or as a group is also recognised including having a day of worship. Discrimination on the basis of religion is also prohibited including barring people access to facilities, institutions, or employment. The law also prohibits forcing a person to act, or engage in any act that is contrary to his/her beliefs.
That being said, there’s plenty more human rights that the new Kenyan Constitution guarantees, but we focus on the 5 most important ones on this one.
Part 2 of the Bill of rights covers other rights and essential freedoms. It has 25 articles covering basic, social-political and economic rights and freedoms – and we will tackle them as time goes by. Especially of note is going to be our discussion on Kenyan food and food security as guaranteed by law, so we’ll save it for later.