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Adopting a National Law to Protect Environmental and Human Rights Defenders in Kenya

Strengthening Kenya’s Legal Framework for Protection of Environmental Human Rights Defenders

This policy recommendation seeks to make a case for the importance of strengthening Kenya’s legal framework for the protection of EHRDs as a means of proactive prevention of threats and advancing their work. Across the globe, there have been increasing cases of assaults, intimidation, harassment, stigmatization, criminalization, and murder for EHRDs in an environment of impunity. Despite the increasing pressures on civic spaces, EHRDs continue showing courage and leadership through their contribution to the struggle for environmental and climate justice. For these reasons states have an obligation to put in place protection and accountability mechanisms to address the challenges of EHRDs and provide remedies for human rights violations.

Currently, the recognition and protection of defenders can only be inferred through interpretation of other law such as: the Constitution of Kenya; Public Order Act (Cap 56); Prevention of Torture Act, No. 12 of 2017; Access to information Act, No. 31 of 2016; Legal Aid Act, No. 6 of 2016 and the Witness Protection Act No. 16 of 2006. However, the express recognition of EHRDs in legislation including the roles and responsibility of state and non-state actors to respect their rights would reduce, minimize, or help prevent the number of attacks against EHRDs and create an environment for them to engage in activism.

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