human rights

Celebrating Human Rights

On December 10th, the world celebrated the international human rights day. Like every nation, Kenya also celebrated the day. I am sure that national organizations mandated with the duty to monitor compliance with the law on human rights had marked the day on their calendars and the day didn’t pass without a small celebration.
But the country as a whole did not celebrate, the way we did two days later, on Jamhuri day. One cannot help but wonder if there is anything to celebrate, be it in the human rights arena or in the depressing realities of our fine Republic.

Whereas we may not have much to celebrate on any day called the international human rights day, we can use the day for transparency, accountability and checks and balances purposes. On such a day, we can ask questions like why domestic violence still thrives in the country. As if that is not enough, there are many child molesters and abusers roaming our towns, while their victims lull in psychological torture. We can also take a moment to ask why our law enforcement, particularly the police is such an internal threat to all the citizens. Lawyers and the non-lawyers alike do not wish to deal with the police.

May be, I should speak for myself. I do not like to deal with the police. If our world has a good police system, I would gladly be a criminal attorney. But I fret the police. I hate to have to go to any police station. Any questions asked may land me in a cell or in an early grave. You heard of the lawyer who was roughed up and thrown in a cell yet he had come to act for his client? You have of course not forgotten Willy Kimani and the fate he suffered.

But what do we do in the face of all that? We let it go. After all, our country is in bigger danger, human rights abuses cannot be our biggest ailment. But then again, come to think of it, if our country’s observance of human rights was excellent, maybe we would not have cases lagging for so long in courts of law. May be, we would not have people in several ministries feeling comfortable at the thought of stealing money meant for maternal health, and going ahead to actualize their thoughts. May be, the many rogue police men who have been involved in human rights violations would have been named and shamed, and forced to retire disgracefully, on top of a prison sentence.

We must do better. As for me, I shall keep grumbling. I shall also keep working on my courage and who knows, I may be the bull that tackles the impunity in the police force. It is unfair that children who have been sexually abused should resign to their fate simply because they do not have money to pay a physician to fill a p3 form. Like we have a government chemist, a government pathologist, we should have a government doctor/physician who is stationed at a police station, whose services are free, one who is salaried by the government. But isn’t that just a dream? – how can we have a government doctor on such terms as I have mentioned when the doctors we have in government hospitals are currently on strike for poor payment and other labor grievances?

Human rights are things we cannot dispense with. We must act; we must ensure that the good people resident in Kenya are treated with the dignity they deserve.

BY SASHA MUSIGI

This article appears in our weekly digital law magazine, The Deuteronomy, Vol 9, Issue 3 of December 16th, 2016

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