25/02/16: Meeting with Kenyan human rights defender Gacheke Gachihi

The All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) was pleased to meet Gacheke Gachihi, a social justice activist from Kenya. He has been working with Peace Brigades International to protect the space for civil society in Kenya and is a founding member of Bunge la Mwananchi (‘People’s Parliament’). The Bunge la Mwananchi aims to counter the entrenched structures of the political elite by supporting grassroots social movements.

Gacheke Kenya HRDThe main points raised during the meeting were as follows:

  • Human rights defenders have faced growing challenges since 2013 when the most recent Government took office. Since then, many have been arrested for illegal assembly.
  • Protesting is very difficult in Kenya, as police are heavy-handed and act with apparent impunity.
  • Stigmatisation and attacks against human rights defenders are getting worse, especially for LGBT activists and those involved in land rights disputes.
  • Prosecutions against human rights defenders are also on the rise.
  • There are already concerns about the fairness of the upcoming elections in 2017, as well as concerns that the situation for human rights defenders will get worse in the lead up to the elections.
  • Women victims of sexual violence after the 2013 elections continue to struggle for justice.
  • The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission looking into the 2007 post-election violence had a limited mandate and its report is yet to be published.

The PHRG continues to monitor human rights concerns in Kenya and the East African region, and to raise concerns in the UK Parliament whenever possible.