Kenya responds to UN over anti-government protests censure

Kenya responds to UN over anti-government protests censure

The United Nations headquarters building is pictured with a UN logo in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The Permanent Mission of Kenya has responded to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva over a statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the anti-government protests.

The statement issued on Friday, July 14, by (OHCHR) spokesperson Jeremy Laurence urged local authorities to refrain from using deadly force when quelling anti-government demonstrations in the country, calling for speedy investigations into the reported deaths and injuries recorded across the country.

In a rebuttal on Sunday, the Kenyan permanent mission contested OHCHR's statement, stating that the protest was wrongly portrayed and misinformed.

"While the Permanent Mission shares the OHCHR's concern for human rights, it is obliged to contest the characterization of recent events in Kenya as 'peaceful protests'. Such a designation belies the widely and credibly documented ground reality," read the statement shared by Foreign Affairs PS Korir Sing'oei.

"Moreover, the Permanent Mission wishes to contest the portrayal of these violent acts as being widespread. The unfortunate incidents of violence were, in reality, confined to a few areas, not representative of the entire country." 

Further, the Permanent Mission clarified that the protests were "appropriately managed by our law enforcement agencies" to provide safety for majority of Kenyans and limit the extent of the disruption. 

They also questioned the reliability of the OHCHR on 'third-party' information sources, noting that it delegitimizes the quality of the data they used to censure Kenya.

"The use of such information without due diligence raises concerns about the quality and reliability of the data in question. This method of information gathering bypasses the primary duty of OHCHR to establish the facts before making such critical statements," read the statement. 

The Permanent Mission further asserted that the Kenyan government acknowledges its obligations to protect and uphold the rights to peaceful assembly and protest and its commitment to peace, democracy, and human rights is unwavering.

"The government does so reflecting its constitutional and political commitment to protecting these rights as key to delivering in its mandate to advance the security and prosperity of all Kenyans," added the statement in part. 

The Permanent Mission, therefore, insisted that there should be a differentiation between the right to peaceful assembly and the acts of destructive rioting that occurred in Kenya in the last week. 

They, however, concurred with spokesperson Laurence's call to speedy investigations on the unfortunate aftermath of the protests, emphasizing that it should also not be "construed as an endorsement or tolerance of the violent and destructive behaviours that were displayed."

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