Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1985


Kenya has been a single party state since 1982, and the
President, Daniel Arap Moi, exercises firm control over both
the Government and the party, the Kenyan African National
Union (KANU) . The role of the party was enhanced in 1985 with
local and national party elections, the third such elections
since independence. There was government pressure to force
rank and file citizens to join the party during the voter
registration drive. As of January 1, 1985, all Kenyan civil
servants are required to be party members. However, neither
KANU nor the National Assembly have significant impact on
policy initiation.

Despite the one-party system there is still considerable
competition for parliamentary seats. In the September 1983
parliamentary elections, over 900 candidates competed for 158
seats. While the large majority of parliamentary and party
elections are free and fair, reportedly there was government
interference in 1985 party elections in a few sensitive cases
to ensure that only State House-approved candidates won.
People who have been expelled from the party (15 during 1984)
are ineligible for public office. Others have voluntarily
stepped down in order to facilitate the election of candidates
more favored by State House.

Kenya's economy has largely recovered from the 1984 drought,
although growth in the gross national product (GNP) in 1985
barely kept pace with the population growth. With population
expanding at over 4 percent a year, unemployment continuing to
rise (400,000 job seekers after at best 20,000 new jobs in the
wage economy each year), declining per capita income,
inefficient subsidized public corporations, and an
increasingly difficult budget situation, Kenya's economic
problems are not likely to be resolved in the near term,
although the Government has begun to take appropriate steps.

There was no basic change in the human rights situation in
Kenya in 1985 from 1984. As in the previous year, there was a
serious border incident involving nomadic tribesmen. Two
persons are still held under the Public Security Act which
includes provisions superceding constitutional safeguards.
The judiciary showed significant independence in handling
several student cases.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:

a. Political Killing

Kenya does not sanction or practice unlawful or arbitrary
deprivation of life, and there were no reports of political
killings in 1985.

b. Disappearance

The Government does not sanction or carry out secret arrests
or abductions.

c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or

Torture is specifically forbidden under the Kenyan
Constitution. Nevertheless, there are reports that police
have used torture and that security forces in Northeast
Province have tortured local citizens (mostly Somali
ethnics). Most allegations of torture are investigated by the
Government, and several police and military officials have
been jailed or sacked for torturing suspects or prisoners.
Police also often use excessive force in apprehending
criminals and numerous suspects have been killed while
attempting to flee the scene of a crime. Many Members of
Parliament have questioned the authority of the police to
"shoot to kill," and the topic has led to lively discussions
both within the Government and in the National Assembly.

Military forces have also been criticized for "overreaction"
to incidents in border areas. In February 1985, the Kenyan
military used helicopter gunships to kill at least 50
Ethiopians who had reportedly massacred 42 Kenyan women and
children while rustling cattle in Marsabit district. This
district routinely is troubled by cross-border raids and
incidental attacks on civilians by nomadic tribes inhabiting
both sides of the border. No attempt was made to apprehend or
question the suspects. Although military officers spoke
freely about the incident, the Government never publicly
acknowledged it .

In 1982, the Moi Government began to utilize the Preservation
of Public Security Act, which includes provisions superceding
constitutional safeguards. Persons formally held under the
Act are kept in solitary confinement, where they are allowed
almost no contact with the outside world, including their
attorneys and families.

Prison conditions are poor, and Amnesty International has
expressed concern over the treatment of detainees. In June
1985, a former Member of Parliament, held in conjunction with
the murder of his successor, died in prison of a heart attack
after allegedly being refused his prescribed medication.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Preservation of Public Security Act empowers the State to
detain or otherwise control individuals without trial or other
reference to the judiciary for an unlimited period. Since
resuming the practice of detention without charge in 1982, the
Government has formally detained or restricted 13 persons
under the Act. Ten uncharged detainees were released in 1983
and 1984 and one in 1985. Those remaining in detention
without being charged are a journalist and Ralli Odinga, the
son of Kenya's former Vice President, Oginga Odinga.

Other Kenyans have been held, usually for short periods,
without being formally detained. Approximately 60 soldiers
and airmen have been held since the 1982 coup attempt, and
several others implicated in an alleged coup plot in early
1985. Subject to military jurisdiction, none of them has been
charged with any crime.

Double jeopardy is not unknown in Kenya. In December 1984, a
prominent businessman was arrested and charged with a crime
allegedly committed in 1976. The case was dropped by the
Attorney General in 1976, and the dropping charge was
confirmed by his successor in 1981. The case was reopened
even though no additional evidence was produced. Although a
constitutional court convened by the Chief Justice in 1985
ruled that continuation of the case would be "vexatious and
harassing, an abuse of the process of the court, and contrary
to public policy," the current Attorney General continues the

However, aside from detention cases under the Public Security
Act and the unprecedented circumstances created by the
attempted coup in August 1982, habeas corpus has generally
been available in Kenya. Kenyan law requires that persons
charged with crimes be brought biweekly before judicial
authorities in public court to ensure that investigations are
carried out in a timely manner and that prisoners are not
mistreated. The degree of compliance with the biweekly review
requirement seems to vary with the diligence of the individual
senior resident magistrate responsible for ensuring that these
procedures are followed. Detainees' cases are reviewed every
6 months by a Confidential Detainees Review Tribunal.

Kenya does not practice forced labor.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary usually exhibits considerable independence. The
major exception is in cases involving detention under the
Preservation of Public Security Act, where its authority is
limited to ensuring compliance with procedural provisions.
Aside from these security cases, the right to a fair public
trial is usually observed in Kenya. Civilians are tried in
civilian courts, and verdicts may be appealed to the Kenyan
High Court. The High Court is susceptible to executive
pressure since justices are appointed and dismissed solely at
the pleasure of the President.

Military personnel are tried by military courts and verdicts
may be appealed. Judge Advocates are appointed on a case by
case basis by the Chief Justice. Most sentences meted out as
a result of the August 1982 coup attempt have either been
reduced or suspended. However, the 12 coup leaders convicted
of treason, whose appeals were rejected, were reportedly
executed in July 1985. Members of the press regularly attend
and report on court proceedings whether civilian or military.

The major judicial event in 1985 was the arrest and trial of
students involved in demonstrations leading to the closure of
the University of Nairobi's main campus for several months.
Five students were charged in March 1985 with participating in
an illegal assembly and failure to obey an order to disperse.
The senior resident magistrate hearing the case jailed one
defendant for 1 year, fined three $330 each, and acquitted the

In another case, 14 students were convicted of stealing a
university vehicle and sentenced to 6 months in prison, but
the High Court upheld their appeals and called the initial
trial "arbitrary and unlawful." The students were released
and permitted to return to tlxeir studies in October.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or

Security officials sometimes conduct unwarranted or illegal
searches to seize allegedly stolen property or apprehend
suspected criminals. In early 1985, after the murder of a
European couple in the Nairobi suburb of Karen, general
service units conducted house-to-house searches and illegally
confiscated personal property which they claimed must have
been stolen since the owners "could not afford it."

Correspondence with prisoners is monitored, censored, and
frequently not delivered. Security officials are invariably
present when prisoners or detainees consult with family
members or attorneys. Reportedly, security forces
occasionally employ surveillance techniques and electronic
invasion of the home.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Rights, Including.

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are proclaimed in
the Constitution. In practice, however, these freedoms have
been narrowly interpreted by Kenyan authorities (e.g..
Parliament is not permitted to discuss "foreign affairs").
The existence and use of the detention provisions of the
Preservation of Piiblic Security Act inhibit public exchange of
views on political subjects. Kenya has no formal censorship
of the local press, but pressure — including the firing of
journalists — has been brought to bear on journalists and
publications not to stray too far from the government line.
Additionally, government officials regularly caution editors
against printing information which they wish withheld from the
piiblic, and editors usually oblige. The press can and does
report unflattering news about government officials, but never
about the President and only rarely about other leaders
considered to be "off limits." Government policies are rarely

The Government also discourages students and faculty from
political activism. Kenya's institutions of higher education
have been closed on repeated occasions. The main campus of
the University of Nairobi only reopened after students were
required to refrain from any political activity. Shortly
thereafter, three university lecturers and a primary school
teacher and his wife were arrested and charged with sedition.
Kenyan leaders regularly harangue lecturers for disloyalty and
for preaching tribalism.

Kenya has a 30 member film censorship board under the auspices
of the Ministry of Culture and Social Services. The Board
must approve all films shown in Kenya, but a wide variety of
uncut foreign films is regularly available. A 10 member
television censorship board has established precepts which
govern what can be shown on television.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Although the Kenyan Constitution formally sanctions freedom of
assembly and association, these rights are sometimes limited
by the Public Order and Police Act, which gives local
administrative authorities wide powers to control public
gatherings. It is illegal to convene an unlicensed meeting.
and politicians have been arrested or investigated for
violations of this statute. Nonetheless, licenses for public
meetings are rarely denied, and then usually on the grounds
that the proposed meeting might generate civil disorder. The
Government has occasionally prevented political, religious,
and social meetings under the Societies Act.

Excepting civil servants, forced membership in political
organizations is not officially required. Nevertheless, many
Kenyans complained of harassment and intimidation during the
KAl-JU party recruitment drive from January to June 1985.
Security forces routinely arrested on false charges those who
could not produce a party membership card, and one district
commissioner directed that party membership was a prerequisite
to any economic activity in his district. Another refused to
grant interviews to nonparty members. The Government and the
party both repudiated the coercion, but intimidation continued.

Kenya has a relatively free trade union movement. Its single
trade union confederation, the Central Organization of Trade
Unions, is affiliated with the Organization of African Trade
Union Unity. Complex labor legislation renders virtually all
strikes illegal. Strikes are permitted only if the Ministry
of Labor has not taken action toward resolution within 21 days
after the formal declaration of dispute. Wildcat strikes of
no more than 1 to 2 days are quite common. Most disputes,
however, are settled by the parties concerned. Kenya's
dispute mechanism is centered in the Industrial Relations
Court, founded in 1964, which has a high reputation for
fairness and impartiality. All Kenyan wage earners are
subject to government regulations limiting wage increases.
Nevertheless, some unions have had notable success in
obtaining salary adjustments for union members by filing
litigation before the Industrial Court. Some unions have also
obtained significant additional worker benefits, such as
expanded health insurance coverage and increased housing
allowances. All collective agreements must be approved by the
Industrial Court before they can take effect. The Industrial
Court has become the model for several other such labor courts
in Africa.

In August 1980, the Government formally disbanded the Kenyan
Civil Servants Union (at that time Kenya's largest union)
because of its alleged political activities. The Public
Service International has continued to press for a genuine
civil servants' union, given Kenya's membership in the
International Labor Organization and signature to the
Convention on the Right to Organize and Collective
Bargaining. In September 1985, a "civil servants association"
was formed with presidential permission, but labor observers
claim that it is not a legitimate labor union.

All permanent workers engaged by an enterprise employing at
least seven persons may be organized into trade unions.
Approximately 75 percent of all such enterprise employees are
unionized, and about half (300,000) pay voluntary union dues.
Unions actually represent a greater number in collective
bargaining because nonunion workers are also covered by
collective agreements negotiated for their respective
enterprise. Agreements are usually valid for 2 years. A few
professional voluntary organizations, such as the Law Society
of Kenya (i.e., the Kenyan Bar Association), exist, but such
associations do not conduct themselves as trade unions.

c. Freedom of Religion

A wide range of religious freedoms exists in Kenya, and
freedom of worship is protected by the Constitution. The
Government has often criticized church officials for meddling
in politics and has refused to register religious societies
and groups which it believes may pursue activities harmful to
society. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
(Mormons) has tried for the past 4 years without success to
obtain registration under the Societies Act. However, the
Government has not registered any other churches during that
period, and it has not interfered with Mormon meetings. In
1985, the Government also started to deregister "sects" which
it considers prejudicial to public security. For example, the
African Gospel Church of God was deregistered on August 23,
1985, after 25 years of activity in Kenya.

d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Travel within Kenya is restricted only by provisions of the
Preservation of Public Security Act, which limits movement
within Kenya of persons considered to be a danger to public
security. These provisions are only rarely implemented.

Following the August 1, 1982, coup attempt, the Kenyan
Government expanded bureaucratic requirements necessary for
travel abroad. These additional hurdles have had a negative
impact upon study and research opportunities for Kenyan
university students and faculty. Kenya does not formally
prohibit emigration of its nationals,. In rare cases
influential or controversial Kenyans have had their passports
confiscated by the Government, thus preventing them from
traveling abroad.

Although Kenya suffers from high and increasing unemployment,
it continues to accept refugees. During 1985, Kenya's refugee
population increased by approximately 15 percent to about
8,500 documented resident refugees. Of these, over 90 percent
are Ethiopian, Ugandan, or Rwandan. In addition to those
individuals who obtained official refugee status, between
3,000 and 10,000 additional persons have taken refuge in Kenya
unofficially. The renewed fighting in Uganda produced new
refugee flows from Uganda at the beginning of 1986.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government

The Chief of State, President Moi, supported by a small group
of advisors, controls all major aspects of policy-making and
has increasingly consolidated political power, especially
since the attempted coup of August 1, 1982. Kenya became a de
jure one-party State on June 9, 1982, but a wide range of
candidates and views is generally permitted. In 1983, the
Kenyan electorate rejected approximately 35 percent of Kenya's
incumbent parliamentarians, including 5 Ministers and 18
Assistant Ministers. Within the one-party system, the number
of candidates for a particular public office is frequently a
half dozen or more, and in the September 1983 general
elections up to 15 candidates ran for a single parliamentary
seat. Of the 995 persons who applied for party clearance to
run for Parliament, 992 were granted permission to stand for
election. Of these, roughly 700 ultimately had their names
placed on the ballot. A small number of elections in
sensitive districts reportedly were rigged to ensure that
government-favored candidates won. Individual local
governinent officials also allegedly have accepted bribes to
influence a favorable outcome for certain candidates.

In Kenya's post-independence history neither the President nor
the Vice President has ever faced an opposing candidate. The
Kenyan Government encourages but does not coerce the
electorate to vote. Turnout has generally averaged between 60
and 70 percent of the electorate, but this figure fell to 42
percent in 1983. Participation in the 1985 party elections
was also relatively low.

President Moi has expanded ethnic representation in the
Government and the party. Members of all ethnic groups are
permitted to run for office, and Kenya has one white
Parliamentarian who was reelected in a constituency that is 99
percent black African, despite the presence of several black
African candidates on the ballot. Twelve persons from
different ethnic groups hold cabinet portfolios in the
Government, including the first ethnic Somali ever appointed
to Ministerial rank in Kenya. Sixteen groups are represented
among the 43 assistant ministers in the Government.

Only one female candidate was elected to Kenya's National
Assembly in 1983, although several others ran for seats. Over
20 female candidates were elected to municipal office.
President Moi subsequently appointed two women to Kenya's
National Assembly as nominated members (the Kenyan
Constitution provides for 12 such presidential appointments).
In August 1985, one of the women resigned her nomination and
contested and won a by-election in her constituency.

The range of permissible discussion of, and opposition to,
government policies has been fairly broad within the National
Assembly. However, discussion is increasingly focused on
local subjects, and there is no criticism of the President or
any policies which he initiates or supports. The formal
detention in August 1982 of Koigi Wa Wamwere, a sitting member
of Parliament who was repeatedly critical of major government
policies, exemplified government sanction against critics.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights

The Government of Kenya is sensitive to criticism of human
rights conditions. Various human rights organizations,
including Amnesty International, have conducted extensive
letter-writing campaigns to the Government with respect to
Kenya's resort to the use of formal detention. Although the
Government released 11 persons held under the Public Security
Act between October 1983 and September 1985, Government
officials have emphatically rejected the notion that foreign
pressure had anything to do with the releases. President Moi
has publicly criticized Amnesty International for "meddling"
in Kenyan internal affairs.

Although there are several Kenyan organizations which address
certain aspects of human rights issues, there is no group
which focuses exclusively on human rights concerns in Kenya.
Kenya has neither signed nor ratified the Organization of
African Unity's Human Rights Charter which was adopted at that
organization's July 1981 Summit in Nairobi. Kenya hosted the
U.N. End of Decade for Women Conference in 1985.
In its 1985 report. Amnesty International noted the release in
1984 of five prisoners of conscience and expressed concern
about the continued imprisonment of other political prisoners
held without trial since 1982. Freedom House rates Kenya
"partly free. "


Kenya's population of 20.3 million will double by the year
2000 given an annual population growth rate of 4.1
percent — the highest in the world. Real growth in per capita
gross national product ($340 in 1983) has been uneven over the
last several years. Kenya has had one of the most dynamic and
successful economies in Africa with a highly developed private
sector and, in most years, self-sufficiency in food. The
Kenyan Government has taken action to improve the country's
health care, education, and general standard of living, but
recent economic difficulties, including an unprecedented
drought in 1984, retarded progress in these areas. While good
rains in 1985 substantially improved crop harvests, bills due
for food purchases, payment to the (International Monetary
Fund), and uncertain prices for coffee and tea (the two main
foreign exchange earners) cloud the outlook for 1986. Also,
the Government, despite praise for the private sector, still
relies heavily on inefficient, subsidized public corporations,
which control major commodity prices and distribution.

Approximately 80 percent of all Kenyans live in rural areas,
and most are involved in subsistence agriculture. Only 1.1
million people (out of the 7.4 million estimated to be in the
work force) are in the formal sector, i.e., the wage economy,
and 50 percent of those are government employees. Kenya's
work force in the year 2000 will number approximately 14.6
million, putting even greater strain on the country's society
and economy. About 10 percent of the urban population and 55
percent of the rural population was estimated in 1978 to live
below the poverty level .

The minimum age for the employment of children in Kenya is
16. However, with the majority of Kenyans employed in the
informal sector, the law is unenforceable. Kenya has adequate
legislation to provide for acceptable conditions of work and
occupational safety and health, but the Government is unable
to ensure compliance due to a shortage of qualified
inspectors. The minimum wage is established by the Government
and reviewed periodically.

Women constitute an essential factor in Kenya's labor
equation. They still provide about three-quarters of Kenya's
farm labor, while carrying out their traditional familial
responsibilities at the same time. Because of an accelerating
rural migration of males to the cities in search of
hard-to-find but higher paying jobs, female farm labor is
likely to maintain its prominent position. Most of Kenya's
tribes still practice female circumcision. The Kenyan
Government, however, has made a major effort to eliminate the
practice. President Moi has publicly and repeatedly condemned
female circumcision, and the Ministry of Health has forbidden
such operations to be performed in government facilities. The
Kenya Government's commitment to women's rights was shown by
its hosting of the U.N. End of Decade Conference.

Education is given a high budgetary priority, and this is
reflected in a primary school enrollment ratio (1982) of 125
percent (This ratio is more than 100 percent because overage
children are included in the enrollment statistics.) However,
secondary school enrollment rates drop sharply: of all
students between ages 15 and 19, only 25 percent of males and
15 percent of females are enrolled in secondary school. About
2 percent of Kenya's college age population is enrolled in
institutions of higher education, and of these students only
25 percent are female.

The infant mortality rate has steadily declined from 150 per
1,000 live births in 1960, to 83 in 1977, and now stands at
59. Life expectancy has risen steadily from 42.5 years in
1960 to 58.5 years in 1985. Although the most recent data
available (1980) indicate that 85 percent of Kenya's city
dwellers have access to clean water, only 15 percent of the
rural population has regular access to safe water. Last
available data (1977) on caloric consumption indicate that 94
percent of Kenya's minimal nutritional requirements are met.

Another looming economic and social problem concerns Kenya's
65,000 member Asian community which directly accounts for
approximately one-fourth of Kenya's total economic output.
African resentment of Asians, primarily because of their
extensive business holdings, has intensified in direct
proportion to Kenya's current economic decline. Kenya's
Africanization campaign to encourage black African
participation in commercial interests has resulted in some
Asian emigration and disinvestment and has prompted concern
within the community for the security of Asian ownership.

Kenya also amended its citizenship law in 1984 depriving many
Asians and Europeans of Kenyan nationality. Under the current
law, people born in Kenya of non-Kenyan parents can no longer
claim Kenyan citizenship. Several such persons have been
refused passports and work permits.