UN experts urge restraint on eve of disputed Kenya election

GENEVA– The human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Kenyans are at “grave risk” as the country heads into a disputed election, a group of UN experts* has warned, urging all sides to exercise restraint.

We are alarmed by recent reports of threats, intimidation, inflammatory statements, and mob violence contributing to an increasingly hostile political environment as Kenya heads into the repeat presidential election tomorrow,” the experts said.

“This situation poses a grave risk to people’s rights and freedoms and must be urgently addressed. We urge all parties and their followers to show restraint and to prioritise constructive dialogue above all else, and we note that the two main political rivals have called for unity.”

The experts reminded the Kenyan authorities of their duty to investigate fully any allegations of human rights violations, including excessive use of force against peaceful protesters and acts of violence by individuals or groups, including recent attacks against the staff of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Kenya has come a long way since the severe post-election violence of 2007, but it cannot risk eroding these great achievements by attacks against independent institutions, such as the electoral commission or the judiciary,” the experts said.

Elections are the cornerstone of democracy, but this can only hold true if the human rights of all Kenyans are respected in the process.”