Press Play and Listen to this article on Nyongesa Sande!!
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) is an autonomous national human rights institution, established by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act, 2011. It is a successor to the body of the same name established by an earlier Act of Parliament in 2002. The original KNCHR became operational in July 2003, and following the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya in August 2010, was legally reconstituted as the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission (under Article 59 of the Constitution). The 2011 legislation restructured the body, assigning the equality function to a new National Gender and Equality Commission and reestablishing the name of the KNCHR.
The main mission of the KNCHR, in its successive legal embodiments, has been to investigate and provide redress for human rights violations in Kenya, to research and monitor the compliance of human rights norms and standards, human rights education and training and campaigns, advocate, and collaborate with other stakeholders in Kenya. The KNCHR has six programmes to implement its strategic goals.
The KNCHR is led by a Chairperson and four other Commissioners appointed by the President of Kenya after nomination by a selection panel consisting of governmental and non-governmental interests. The current Acting Chairperson is Dr Samuel Kipng’etich arap Tororei who took over from Florence Simbiri-Jaoko whose term of office expired on January 9, 2012. Under the earlier legislation the KNCHR had nine Commissioners, four of whom also left the Commission on January 9, 2012, at the expiry of their terms of office. A new substantive Chairperson is expected to be appointed in November 2012.
A Secretariat headed by the Commission Secretary runs the KNCHR’s programmatic areas. The mandate of the KNCHR is to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Kenya. Although established by the Government, the KNCHR is independent.
The KNCHR is a watchdog body. It monitors Government institutions, carries out investigations on alleged human rights violations, and in appropriate cases provides redress to those whose rights have been violated. KNCHR is also an advisory body. The Commission gives advice to the Kenyan Government on how to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights. It also monitors the enactment of legislation in Kenya and recommends existing legislation for review to ensure they comply with human rights standards.
The KNCHR’s main office is at CVS Plaza, Kasuku/Lenana Road in Nairobi with two regional offices, one in Wajir in the North Eastern province and another in Kitale in the Rift Valley Province launched in September 2007.
The functions of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) are integrated into the Constitution of Kenya. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) is an independent National Human Rights Institution created by Article 59 of the Constitution of Kenya.
The Commission is established through an Act of Parliament (the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act). It is the state’s lead agency in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Commission should, pursuant to Article 59(5) (c) of the Constitution, be a commission within the meaning of Chapter Fifteen of the Constitution. Therefore, it should have the status and powers of a Commission under that Chapter.
The Commission plays two key broad mandates;
- it acts as a watch-dog over the Government in the area of human rights.
- it provides key leadership in moving the country towards a human rights state.
The main functions of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) are to investigate and provide redress for human rights violations, to research and monitor the compliance of human rights norms and standards, to conduct human rights education, to facilitate training, campaigns and advocacy on human rights as well as collaborate with other stakeholders in Kenya.
Functions Of The Kenya National Commission On Human Rights (KNCHR)
Section 8 of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act states that functions of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights are to:
- promote respect for human rights and develop a culture of human rights in the Republic;
- promote the protection and observance of human rights in public and private institutions;
- monitor, investigate and report on the observance of human rights in all spheres of life in the Republic;
- receive and investigate complaints about alleged abuses of human rights, except those relating to the violation of the principle of equality and freedom from discriminations under the gender and equality commission, and take steps to secure appropriate redress where human rights have been violated;
- on its own initiative or on the basis of complaints investigate or research matter in respect to human rights, and make recommendations to improve the functioning of State organs;
- act as the principal organ of the State in ensuring compliance with obligations under international and regional treaties and conventions relating to human rights except those that relate to the rights of special interest groups protected under the law relating to equality and non-discrimination;
- formulate, implement and oversee programmes intended to raise public awareness of the rights and obligations of a citizen under the Constitution;
- work with the National Gender and Equality Commission and the Commission on Administrative Justice to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and complementarity in their activities and to establish mechanisms for referrals and collaboration;
- perform such other functions as the Commission may consider necessary for the promotion and protection of human rights;
- perform such other functions as the Constitution or any other written law may prescribe.
Powers Of The Kenya National Commission On Human Rights (KNCHR)
According to Article 252 of the Kenyan Constitution, the Commission:
- may conduct investigations on its own initiative or on a complaint made by a member of the public;
- has the powers necessary for conciliation, mediation and negotiation;
- should recruit its own staff; and
- may perform any functions and exercise any powers prescribed by legislation, in addition to the functions and powers conferred by this Constitution.
Article 253 of the Kenyan Constitution states that the commission-
- is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a seal, and
- is capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name.
In addition to the powers of a Commission under Article 253 of the Constitution, the Commission should have the power to—
- acquire, hold, charge and dispose of movable and immovable property; and
- do or perform all such other things or acts for the proper discharge of its functions under the Constitution and the KNCHR Act as may lawfully be done or performed by a body corporate.
General Powers Of The Commission
In addition to the powers conferred in Article 252 of the Constitution, the Commission should have power to—
- issue summons as it deems necessary for the fulfilment of its mandate;
- require that statements be given under oath or affirmation and to administer such oath or affirmation;
- adjudicate on matters relating to human rights;
- obtain, by any lawful means, any information it considers relevant, including requisition of reports, records, documents and any information from any person, including governmental authorities, and to compel the production of such information for the proper discharge of its functions;
- by order of the court, enter upon any establishment or premises, and to enter upon any land or premises for any purpose material to the fulfilment of the mandate of the Commission and in particular, for the purpose of obtaining information, inspecting any property or taking copies of any documents, and for safeguarding any such property or document;
- interview any person or group of persons;
- subject to adequate provision being made to meet his or her expenses for the purpose, call upon any person to meet with the Commission or its staff, or to attend a session or hearing of the Commission, and to compel the attendance of any person who fails to respond to a request of the Commission to appear and to answer questions relevant to the subject matter of the session or hearing;
- conduct audits of any public or private institution to establish the level of compliance with the Constitution with regard to integrating the principle of equality and equity in its operations;
- require any public or private institution to provide any special report on matters relating to the institution’s implementation of the principle of equality and equity including gender equity.
Powers Of A Court
In the performance of its functions under the KNCHR Act, the Commission should have the powers of a court to—
- issue summonses or other orders requiring the attendance of any person before the Commission and the production of any document or record relevant to any investigation by the Commission;
- question any person in respect of any subject matter under investigation before the Commission; and
- require any person to disclose any information within such person’s knowledge relevant to any investigation by the Commission.
Guiding Principles Of The Commission
In fulfilling its mandate, the Commission should act in accordance with the values and principles set out in the Constitution and the Laws of Kenya, and should observe and respect—
- the diversity of the people of Kenya;
- impartiality and gender equity;
- all treaties and conventions which have been ratified in Kenya and in particular the fact that human rights are indivisible, interdependent, interrelated and of equal importance for the dignity of all human beings; and
- the rules of natural justice.
For more about the functions of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), including membership and other provisions, see the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act(opens in a new tab) and its website knchr.org.
The KNCHR aims to comply with the United Nations-approved Paris Principles on the establishment and functioning of independent national human rights institutions. The Commission has been accredited as an ‘A status’ institution by the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC), which is based in Geneva and is supported by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This means that the Commission has been evaluated by its peers as generally in compliance with the Principles. The KNCHR is a member of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), the ICC’s regional grouping for Africa.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Contacts
CVS Plaza 1st Floor,Kasuku Lane ,Off Lenana Road,
P.O. Box: 74359-00200 Nairobi, Kenya
Mobile: 0733 78 00 00 / 0736 78 00 00
Mobile: 0724 256 448 / 0726 610 159
WhatsApp: 0798 849 871
General Enquiries :email@example.com
Central Regional Office
Address: GF Plaza, 1st Floor Kenyatta Avenue, Nyahururu
P.O Box 1100-20300, Nyahururu
Tel: +254(0) 705 982 617
North Eastern Office- Wajir
Airstrip Road/Public Works
P.O Box 363-70200 Wajir
Western Office- Kisumu
Reinsurance Plaza, 3rd Floor
Oginga Odinga Street,
Coast Office- Mombasa
Along Panal Freighters Lane off Haile Selassie road
P.O Box 90171-80100 Mombasa
Landline:(041)-2220468 / 2220584
North Rift Office – Kitale
AFC Building,Opposite Mega Plaza
P.O Box 2999-30200 Kitale