Kenya Seeks to Silence Critics of Government | Freedom House

Kenya Seeks to Silence Critics of Government

Washington

Photo Credit: Katy Fentress

Freedom House condemns in the strongest possible terms proposed legislation that would limit foreign financial support for Kenyan civil society organizations (CSOs).

“The restrictions proposed by the government would deprive citizens of the fundamental right to make their voices heard,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Freedom House’s Africa program. “What the government apparently wants is the power to silence any critics.”

First disclosed by the government on October 30, the legislation would restrict the amount of funds Kenyan civil society organizations (CSO) can receive from non-Kenyan sources to 15 percent of their budget. It would also allow for greater government monitoring of CSOs’ finances. The provisions are part of the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2013 and were introduced without advance notice or debate.

Most Kenyan CSOs, particularly those focused on strengthening democracy and human rights and combating corruption, receive substantial funding from outside Kenya. Many have also already come under attack by the Jubilee Coalition–dominated government of President Uhuru Kenyatta for their work on issues of human rights violations and crimes against humanity.

“If parliament approves these measures, the government will be able to stifle meaningful public debate about its policies as well as its current and past actions,” Petrovic said. “Members of parliament should block the changes, which would weaken laws allowing citizens to hold elected officials accountable, the lifeblood of democracy.”

The proposed cap on foreign funding would violate Kenya's obligations under international treaties that it has agreed to uphold. Article 13 of the United Nations Human Rights Defenders Declaration and Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee the right of CSOs to receive foreign funds. 

Kenya is ranked Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House’s survey of political rights and civil liberties, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2013, and Free in Freedom on the Net 2013.

For more information on Kenya, visit:

Freedom in the World 2013: Kenya

Freedom of the Press 2013: Kenya

Freedom on the Net 2013: Kenya

Blog: Freedom at Issue

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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