Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has considered the initial report of Kenya on how that country implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Martha Karua, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Kenya, in her opening statement, said that Kenya attached great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights. Kenya was currently in the process of developing a comprehensive human rights policy and action plan to provide a roadmap to address the human rights challenges facing the country. The policy was aimed at informing the actions of Government ministries, departments and other actors on the integration of human rights into the national planning process. Kenya was a State party to most of the main international human rights instruments as well as regional ones. Steps already taken included: creating the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in accordance with the Paris Principles; enacting pro human rights legislation; launching the Governance, Justice, Law and Order sector programmes aimed at reforming the legal and justice sector with a view to establish an effective, fair and efficient system of governance and administration of justice, and the set up of the Public Complaints Standing Committee to act as an ombudsman to handle complaints against public officials and institutions, among others. Despite these measures and others, challenges remained.
Among issues raised by the Committee Experts were questions regarding corruption within the judiciary; measures taken to address the gross number of internally displaced persons; the incorporation of the Covenant into national legislation; the applicability of the principle of non-discrimination in national policies; the accreditation and autonomy of the National Human Rights Institution; measures taken to educate the population on human rights; labour market regulations and policies, specifically on the informal sector of the labour market; reform to the education system in Kenya to meet all market needs; the right to strike; registration of births; measures taken to combat domestic violence; legislative measures on sexual exploitation and trafficking in children; acute malnutrition in the northern tribes, and chronic malnutrition in all provinces; strategies and policies targeting women, children, and people with disabilities suffering from poverty; strategies on reforming the housing market, specifically on informal settlements and slums, the continuation of forced evictions; and measures taken to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence among the population, especially among women.
In concluding remarks, Amina Mohamed, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for the discussion and the dialogue on Kenya's adherence to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It was an important constructive learning curve, and Kenya was committed to presenting even better measures in the next report. The shortcomings in the responses were due to the nature and state of the country. Despite this the Government was strongly committed to ensure that the highest standards of living were provided to the people of Kenya.
Philippe Texier, Chairman of the Committee, also in concluding remarks thanked the delegation. The Committee was very pleased with the answers provided by the delegation. The Committee hoped to see Kenya on schedule for its next review.
The delegation of Kenya included representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, and the Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The concluding observations and recommendations of the Committee on the report of Kenya will be issued towards the end of the session, which concludes on Friday, 21 November.
When the Committee meets at 10 a.m. on Monday, 10 November, it will begin its consideration of the report presented by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (E/C.12/UNK/1) on the situation in Kosovo.
Report of Kenya
The initial report of Kenya (E/C.12/KEN/1) notes that in Kenya life expectancy is 46.4 years while the adult literacy rate is 83 per cent. The infant mortality rate is 72 (per 1000). The maternal mortality rate is 590 (per 100,000) and the fertility rate is 4.7. Nearly 50 per cent of the population is under 15 years of age, and 5 per cent of the population is over 65 years of age. According to the WHO standards, the number of disabled persons can be estimated at 10 per cent of the population, which amounts to 3.2 million people.
The High Court of Kenya has the inherent jurisdiction to hear and determine cases of violation of fundamental rights and freedoms. The Bill of Rights in the current Constitution has not provided for economic, social and cultural rights hence the courts have been reluctant to pronounce judgments that promote and protect these rights. The Constitution guarantees that the Bill of Rights applies to all, without any discrimination, whether based on creed, colour, sex, religion, place of origin or other similar grounds. Any person who deems that their rights under the Constitution have been infringed may apply for redress. However, the political right to vote and to contest Presidential, Parliamentary and local authority elections is reserved for citizens. There have been efforts to review the Constitution of Kenya for a long time, which culminated in a draft constitution. The draft Constitution contained extensive provisions on the issue of discrimination and all other rights, but was rejected by 57 per cent of the people who voted at the constitutional referendum held on 21 November 2005.
Though much remains to be done, Kenya has taken significant steps towards the progressive realization of the rights protected in the Covenant. Steps include: the introduction of free and compulsory primary education since January 2003; the reduction of the national HIV prevalence rate from 13.6 per cent in 2002 to about 7 per cent in 2004; and the introduction of the Constituency Development Fund to expedite rural and grassroots development by alleviating poverty among the rural poor. The fund established the Constituency Development Fund Act 2003. Sections of the Chiefs Authority Act that gave Chiefs the authority to impose forced labour in villages (ostensibly for purposes of undertaking communal projects like the maintenance of rural access roads) were repealed in 1997. Additionally, the Government task force on the review labour laws has recommended an overhaul of the current Employment Act, with a view to specifically prohibit forced labour in line with the Forced Labour Convention 105, with the exception of the categories of work exempted from the provisions of the Convention (such as work or service of a military nature, normal civil obligations etc.).
Presentation of the Report
MARTHA KARUA, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Kenya, in her opening statement, said that Kenya attached great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights. After decades of authoritarian rule and the attendant human rights abuses, the Government of Kenya was committed to making a break with the past and creating the necessary enabling environment for the enjoyment of human rights. Kenya was currently in the process of developing a comprehensive human rights policy and action plan to provide a roadmap to address the human rights challenges facing the country. The policy was aimed at informing the actions of Government ministries, departments and other actors on the integration of human rights into the national planning process. It also acted as a reaffirmation of the Government's commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.
The overall goal for this policy was to provide a policy framework to promote the realization of the rights of Kenyans. Development, peace and prosperity were all inextricably linked to the realization of human rights. The policy therefore sought to inject human rights standards in the conception, implementation and evaluation of all development initiatives of both State and non-State actors. This was critical especially due to the difficult period that Kenya just emerged from, following the post election crisis that engulfed the country in 2007 after general elections. The post-election meltdown brought to the fore deep-seated differences and tensions around inequality and injustice manifested mainly in initial ethnic suspicion that mutated into ethnically-based political violence. Kenya's future as a State depended to a large extent on a twin challenge – the need to recognize and celebrate diversity, and the need to build a strong and cohesive national character, stressed Ms. Karua.
Kenya was a State party to most of the main international human rights instruments as well as regional ones and although in some cases the country has not domesticated and implemented the provisions of the international instruments as it should, over the last five years, the Government has made substantial progress towards establishing Kenya as a human rights State, said Ms. Karua. The steps already taken included: establishing the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in accordance with the Paris Principles; the Inter-Agency Committee (to advise the Government on its international human rights obligations including advising the Government on the international instruments that the country should be party to); commencing State reporting on the measures the country was taking; enacting pro human rights legislation (e.g. the National Gender Commission and Development Act, the Persons' with Disabilities Act, and the Refugee Act); launching the Governance, Justice, Law and Order sector programmes aimed at reforming the legal and justice sector with a view to establishing an effective, fair and efficient system of governance and administration of justice; the set up of the Public Complaints Standing Committee to act as an ombudsman to handle complaints against public officials and institutions; and a National Legal Aid Scheme and Awareness Programme to enhance access to justice, targeting the poor and vulnerable groups.
On the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights, Kenya had ensured the right to housing, said Ms. Karua. The Government had created a specific Ministry for Housing, developed a National Housing Policy for Kenya, and upgraded informal settlements under the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme. Despite these measures, challenges remained. In striving to ensure the best attainable state of mental and physical health for the population, the Kenyan Government had enacted a number of legislative and policy measures, these included: HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act which aimed at, inter alia, guaranteeing the right to privacy of the individual, outlawing discrimination in all its forms and subtleties against persons with or perceived or suspected of having HIV and AIDS; the domestication of the Reproductive Health Agenda, endorsed by the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development through the National Reproductive Health Services Delivery Strategy, which promoted safe motherhood and the survival of the child; the National Malaria Strategy for the management of the illness, and control of vectors, malaria in pregnancy, and epidemics; and the conversion of the National Health Insurance Fund into a National Social Health Insurance Fund which covered employees both in the formal and informal sectors of the economy.
Ms. Karua said that school enrolment had increased as a result of the universal free primary education programme. Measures to address the most vulnerable children had been put into force. The School-Feeding programme targeted the arid and semi-arid areas of the country. Bursary and book funds were made available to help retain the poor and vulnerable in schools. In addition the Government also offered free tuition for secondary school.
Kenya had a high rate of unemployment, noted Ms. Karua, coupled with low labour force productivity. To counter this, Kenya had expedited the settlement of trade disputes to promote industrial harmony. It had enforced laws aimed at promoting health and safety standards and strengthening the National Productivity centre. The Government had put into place legislation and measures to declare and define the fundamental rights of employees and had consolidated all the laws relating to trade unions and trade disputes to promote freedom of association.
Estimates indicated that 56 per cent of the population lacked access to adequate food, noted Ms. Karua. To address this the Government had introduced a number of measures which included: a strategy for revitalizing agriculture, to reform the agricultural sector; putting in place mechanisms like the Early Earning System Network, which enabled the Government to adequately respond to food emergencies; the establishment of the Arid Resource Management project, which monitored the food security in arid areas; and putting into force the National Disaster Committee which ensured reliable and timely distribution of relief food. Despite these measures, vulnerability and food insecurity continued to be a threat and increased during extended periods of drought. The Government had also established a multi-stakeholder driven National Action Plan against corruption.
A large disparity in incomes and access to education, health and land, as well as basic needs, including: clean water, adequate housing and sanitation remained issues that had to be tackled. Absolute levels of poverty, especially "pockets of poverty" around Kenya, as well as gender, inter-regional, intra-regional and inter-generational inequalities remained key challenges to be addressed, underscored Ms. Karua.
The unemployment challenge in Kenya was characterized by several dimensions, said Ms. Karua. The first and most obvious was a high population growth rate that was not matched with the creation of viable economic opportunities. Currently persons under the age of 30 comprised 72 per cent of the unemployed, while persons under the age of 24 constituted 51 per cent. This was a formidable risk factor for both the youth and the prosperity of the economy. In addition, rural-urban migration, extensive underemployment and the general mismatch between emerging jobs and the skills available on the market also contributed to wider unemployment challenges facing the State.
The Kenyan judiciary was extremely ineffective in the protection of human rights, constrained by incapacity, corruption, incompetence, outdate legislation, lack of funding, and the failure to assert their independence, underscored Ms. Karua. On national human rights institutions, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights was at its nascent stage and was therefore in the process of laying a firm foundation for establishing a credible working relationship with institutions like the police, prisons and armed forces that would make it possible for the Commission to play a meaningful role in training and initiation of dialogue in human rights. There was a lack of public awareness on human rights and the protections under the Constitution and the various international human rights instruments Kenya was party to. Therefore many suffered from human rights abuses without seeking redress. The Government's aim was that the National Legal Aid and Awareness Programme would make a difference to ameliorate this situation.
Kenya's national development strategy "Vision 2030" sought to secure the socio-economic rights of the poor and marginalized by focusing national development efforts on the elimination of poverty which was the greatest obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights in the country, stressed Ms. Karua. Vision 2030 was motivated by a collective aspiration for a better society to create a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030. The plan was based on three pillars: economic, social and political. The goals set forth were focused on the following sectors: education and training, health, water and sanitation, the environment, housing and urbanization, and gender, youth and vulnerable groups. Kenya continued to face diverse pressing challenges, some of which had been enumerated already. More importantly, these challenges were inter-related.
Questions by Committee Members
Without judicial power, economic, social and cultural rights could not be protected, noted an Expert. In Kenya there were only 300 judges, a very low number for the size of the population, which might hinder justice. Was there a plan to raise the number of judges? If so many judges from the highest courts and courts of appeal were dismissed, who replaced those dismissed, and how many vacancies remained? Concerning the applicability of the Covenant, one Expert noted that the points contained in the current Kenyan legislation did not stipulate any economic, social or cultural rights. What was the role or the legal status of the Covenant in Kenya and was it applicable or not?
With respect to internally displaced persons there was no information found in the replies provided, and an Expert asked if that could be clarified for the Committee. Since international cooperation and assistance was unpredictable and since it complemented Government resources did Kenya plan to continue social expenditure? Internally displaced persons totalled between 350,000 to 500,000 people following the violence that broke out after the elections in 2007 in Kenya, noted an Expert. What was being done to resettle and reintegrate these people back into society?
Experts raised questions on the incorporation of the Covenant into national legislation; rampant corruption within the judiciary; the applicability of the principle of non-discrimination; the internal migration crisis; the urbanization of the population; the wide exceptions of the non-discrimination law; and the accreditation and autonomy of the National Human Rights Institution.
Experts raised concerns about the applicability of reference throughout the State party's report to the old draft Constitution of Kenya. The displacement of people as a result of war bore an enormous impact on the country which included large and accelerated urban populations. More information was requested about the gross discriminatory treatment in Kenya and specifically the application of the provisions in article 2 of the Covenant on non-discrimination.
Did the Government of Kenya agree that there was a fundamental problem with article 82 paragraph 4 of the Kenyan Constitution, and that of the Covenant? And would the discriminatory provisions be removed, asked an Expert?
Answers by the Delegation
In response to the questions raised, the delegation said that up to the year of 2002 corruption was rampant. The Government now had a zero tolerance policy on corruption. An investigation into the conduct of judges saw half of the judges resign and many were tried in court. The vacancies that arose out of the resignations or removals were filled almost immediately. In October 2007 there was an increase in judiciary posts from 50 to 70 posts. Of those posts, 15 remained to be filled, and the Government intended to do so immediately.
The Constitution provided for the applicability of customary law. If a person so choose to have it applied it was provided for, however, it was not compulsory, noted the delegation.
The Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission would deal with perceived historical injustices, said the delegation. The post election violence was not just a result of elections, but due to past historical injustices. A tribunal had been set up to deal with the post election violence.
Since 2003 Kenya had made a lot of progress in settling the cases of corruption, said the delegation. The growth rate used to be at zero per cent and since 2003 it had grown to 6 per cent. In addition the national budget had tripled since then. This illustrated the tightening of the pipelines within the Government. A case currently pending in court involved a former minister being tried for allegations of corruption as well.
The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights was independent, and in accordance with the Paris Principles, said the delegation. The Commission had several programmes running in cooperation with donor organizations for any additional programmes that went beyond the resources allocated by the Treasury of Kenya.
The goal to review the Constitution remained a priority for the Government, said the delegation, however, due to the political turmoil this was put on hold. Human rights could not be upheld where the rule of law was not obtained. The Constitution must first be accepted by Kenyans. The Government had shown a willingness to ensure economic, social and cultural rights with the present policies on health and education as a starting point.
The Government had begun resettling the internally displaced persons. Around 20,000 people remained at the internally displaced persons camps, said the delegation. The aim was to come up with national legislation and policies to avoid this from arising again in future at such a scale.
Further Questions by the Committee Members
Experts asked what specific policies have been put in place to tackle discrimination and internally displaced persons. What policies or measures had been taken with regard to the export processing zones? What was being done to ensure that the Government respected its international human rights agreements?
What practical steps did the Government undertake to educate people, to avoid discriminatory practices? What steps were taken to convince people living in the far north provinces that they too were considered Kenyan, asked one Expert? What specific measures did the Government take to educate the population on human rights? Refugees in Kenya did not enjoy human rights protections, and more information and comments on this was requested.
Experts raised questions related to establishing local branches at the municipal levels so that the National Commission on Human Rights was accessible to all.
Answers by the Delegation
The delegation said that on human rights education, the primary and secondary schools did in fact include human rights curricula. The Government planned to soon incorporate this into higher education.
With respect to the situation of refugees, the delegation said that no refugees were turned away from the borders of Kenya. Both education and health facilities were present in refugee camps. These institutions had been provided with the help of the international community. The services in refugee camps might not be adequate, but they were provided in the best possible way given limited means.
The delegation said that Government funds had been devolved in order to help deal with the problem of marginalization in rural areas of the country. Steps had been taken to address this problem; however, more was left to be done.
The membership of the National Commission on Human Rights was appointed by parliament, said the delegation. The Commission's reports, functions, and internal structure were autonomous of the Government.
In response the delegation said that it was under the purview of the National Commission on Human Rights to establish branches in local municipalities. In addition, there was in fact a common culture in Kenya. The 42 cultures had many commonalities, and were very similar in many ways. People were not just equal before the law, but also in the way they were treated and received services.
Questions by the Committee Experts
More and more people had been pushed into the informal sector of the labour market, with approximate figures showing 6.4 million people, and 1.5 million people in the private sector, one Expert noted. What plans were set to regularize the informal labour sector? How many inspectors were there? The issue of unequal wages was cross-cutting between developed and developing countries, what measures had the Kenyan Government taken in this regard? There was no Constitutional right to social security in Kenya, and once again the informal sector was hardest hit. Was the Government planning any systematic support to the elderly?
Unemployment rates were of great concern for Experts. The report noted that over 470,000 jobs were created as of 2004. What were the difficulties facing the Government's efforts to collect data on unemployment, and what were the figures for more recent years? What impact did the tourist industry have on the creation of jobs in Kenya?
Experts were alarmed to read that one measure outlined in the State party's report was to reform the education system in Kenya to meet all market needs. Clarification was requested as to whether or not this was in fact the case, and it was noted that there should be limits to educational reform. The question of whether or not trade unions were independent was also of concern to the Committee, and there was a strong need for clarification on trade union regulations, and their relationship with the Ministry of Labour. What was the opinion of the Government with regard to trade unions and the export processing zones?
On the right to strike, one Expert asked what were the regulations and policies on the right to strike.
Answers by the Delegation
The delegation said the Government recognized that the informal sector formed a huge bulk with regard to employment in the country. Workers had been encouraged to join social security and health schemes. Such schemes were micro-financing institutions. They had been encouraged during daily routine inspections, in terms of conditions and remuneration, to ensure that minimum standards set out in law were met.
On disparities in income, the delegation said that in terms of gender equality the Government had ratified seven out of eight conventions of the International Labour Organization's fundamental principles for labour. The International Labour Organization Convention on Equal Remuneration had been ratified, and as such Kenya did not have the wage gap between men and women for equal work done. Steps had been taken to encourage women to take these jobs, and remove the limiting prohibiting laws.
In 2001 a lot of changes in the administration of labour took place in Kenya, said the delegation. The Government adopted five new labour laws. The review of labour legislation was coordinated through the task force on labour, which was comprised of a number of specialists, including a special consultant from the International Labour Organization who helped guide this process.
On the work conditions in export processing zones, the delegation said that in 2003 there had been a problem with striking in these areas. This had been a point of departure from the normal relation the Government had in these zones. The Ministry of Labour had carried out inspections in these zones. These zones were no longer exempt from inspections. As of
2007 December, the Government was now able to inspect the export processing zones. Moreover, the regulation for the factories in these zones was covered under the new Occupation, Health and Safety Act.
The delegation said that the Government of Kenya did not see the need to ratify International Labour Organization convention 87 concerning freedom of association and protection of the right to organize. The Government defined trade unions in terms of industry and not craftsmanship. This provided for peaceful industrial relations. Trade unions recruited members in these zones. Workers had been advised to join the relevant trade unions in order to give the trade union the authority to approach the employers, enter into recognition agreements, and gain the power to bargain a collective agreement for terms and conditions beyond the basic minimum standards. If individuals had complaints against the registrar of trade unions, individuals could take complaints to the Industrial Court which handled all issues relating to labour.
The right to strike was not enshrined in the Constitution, although the Trade Unions Act provided for lawful strikes and the procedure to be followed in calling a strike, said the delegation. The Act prohibited certain categories of workers (such as those engaged in essential services) from striking. Unionized employees acting through their union may proceed on strike if they served the Minister with a 21-day strike notice and if the Minister failed to resolve the issue within that period.
It was not true that the Government denied workers of their pension benefits. In Kenya the required legal age for the collection of pensions was 55. This was a social security that was guaranteed, said the delegation.
The delegation said that the resettlement of the internally displaced persons in the labour market was ongoing. Some affected had been granted transfers. However, most of the people who went to internally displaced persons camps came from the agriculture sector, and the Government through the National Resettlement Fund was working on supporting the resettlement of those people back to their farms.
From 2003-2007 the number of jobs created in the country totalled 2,376,700, said the delegation. The breakdown was: 486,900 jobs created in 2003; 474,300 jobs created in 2004; 469,000 jobs created in 2005; 471,800 jobs created in 2006; and in 2007 474,700 new jobs created, noted the delegation.
On the key benefits experienced from the tourism sector, the delegation said that some figures from 2002-2006 included: In 2002 1 million visitors and 24 billion (shillings) collected revenue; 1.3 million visitors in 2004 and 9.2 billion (shillings) collected revenue; in 2005 1.46 million visitors and revenue totalling 48 billion (shillings); and 1.57 million visitors in 2006 and 56 billion (shillings) in collected revenue. The Government was reviewing tourism policies to ensure that the bulk of the benefits were realized by the Kenyan people and not outside operators.
The education system was structured mainly on relevance, providing skills and qualification required in the job market, said the delegation. Despite this it also met other development and social needs. Moreover, the current reforms in the educational sector focused on a balance in job market needs, developmental and social needs, said the delegation.
Further Questions by the Experts
Further questions raised by Committee Experts related to the registration of births; measures taken to combat domestic violence and data on statistics on this issue; legislative measures on sexual exploitation and trafficking in children; acute malnutrition in the northern tribes, and chronic malnutrition in all provinces; strategies and policies targeting women, children, and people with disabilities suffering from poverty; the integration of economic, social and cultural rights in the poverty reduction strategy; strategies on reforming the housing market, specifically on informal settlements and slums, and the continuation of forced evictions; disaggregated data on homelessness; the reservation to article 10 (2) of the Convention on special protection for mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth; measures taken to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence among the population, especially among women, and the criminalization of the transmission of AIDS; details of the impact of measures taken to eliminate child labour; the high child mortality rates; primary health care for indigenous peoples; consideration of widening the scope for cases looking at abortion; the practice of female genital mutilation; increased maternal mortality and infant deaths through such illnesses as pneumonia; and land reform.
Answers by the Delegation
The delegation said that some of the questions could not be answered, but would be addressed in future reports. Preventive measures and strategies to address issues of nutrition and common illnesses such as pneumonia and diarrhea in children had been taken by the Kenyan Government along with other international partners. The Government measures to provide specialized workers to help pregnant women had decreased the numbers of deaths.
Women in Kenya had the opportunity to go for voluntary HIV/AIDS testing, and these tests contributed to the reduction of HIV/AIDS transmission to the child, said the delegation. Health workers were trained to deal with such cases, which contributed to the reduction of negative stigma associated with women with HIV/AIDS. These women were able to deliver in hospital and clinics in the country.
Of the total experienced health care providers 63 per cent were based in rural areas, and 37 per cent in urban areas, said the delegation. Comprehensive care kits and medical units were managed through Government initiatives and help of partners. Health care strategies were hindered due to high poverty levels which faced Kenya. The budget for health was the second highest next to education totalling approximately 25 to 30 per cent of the national budget.
AIDS prevalence increased to 7.1 per cent as of 2007, said the delegation, and it was attributed to sexual behaviours among the population. The Government was taking preventive measures. Changing the behaviour of the population contributed significantly to reducing HIV/AIDS in Kenya.
The Government of Kenya aimed to increase housing units by 2030 to 50,000 units, said the delegation. Housing evictions were put on hold, while the Government looked for alternatives for those living in the informal settlements. The Government was looking into reducing building costs for houses designated for people living in informal settlements, which contributed to slowing down the process of transition from informal settlements and slums to adequate housing.
Children involved in commercial sexual practices totalled 30,000 in Kenya, said the delegation. The Children's Act 2001 criminalized children involved in commercial sexual practices. Despite adoption of the legislation protecting children, enforcement of the existing laws was lacking, but the Government was committed to take effective enforcement measures, specifically focused at hotels and villas which had allowed children into their premises for commercial sex. In addition, trafficking in children and in persons was under review and a bill was presented to parliament which formally criminalized such acts.
On reproductive health, there was a bill in the pipeline to decriminalize abortion, however, dissent was voiced from a number of religious groups, said the delegation.
The figures on the total number of internally displaced persons was approximated from 350,000 to 500,000 persons due to the fact that a number of people chose to live with family, relatives, and friends. A number of people had already returned to their homes as camps were being dismantled.
On the issue of land, the Government was embarking on land reforms, and the new Constitution provided provisions for equal access to land for both men and women. A law enacted in 1985 in Kenya allowed both men and women rights to inherit land, but lack of awareness prevented many women from coming forward.
A public education campaign on female genital mutilation was carried out through public forums organized by provincial administrations and radio programmes. Girls had been encouraged to undertake alternative rights of passage, educating them about themselves and their bodies, said the delegation.
Further Questions by the Experts
Experts asked questions related to free secondary education; illiteracy rates of adults and measures taken to assist adults to learn to read and write; why the people of Kenya rejected the chapter of culture and customs in the draft Constitution; regimes of intellectual property to protect traditional and ancestral knowledge; the recognition of the Nubian culture; the ratification of International Labour Organization Convention 169 on indigenous people, and the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People; why did the children living in slums go to informal schools rather than formal schools; reluctance on the part of many families in Kenya to send girls to school; access for young people to reproductive health education; and on traditional healing practices of the indigenous population and policies to legislate such practices.
Answers by the Delegation
Regarding the reservation to article 10 (2), the delegation said that the Government of Kenya wished not to make a statement on this article at this time, considering the issues that faced the country. The Government aspired to review this position in the near future.
On the right to property by women, there was nothing that prohibited women from owning property. However, traditional practices encouraged males more than women in this respect, said the delegation. The Succession Act did not make any distinction between men and women in Kenya. In a 2007 court of appeal case a ruling was made that all property acquired as a result of marriage was equally entitled to both parties involved.
In Kenya the Government distributed allowances for free primary education, said the delegation. Additional food allowances were allocated for areas where food security was a problem. Since 2006, the Government had also introduced mobile schools to address the educational needs of the nomadic people. These schools followed the nomadic people wherever they moved to. Moreover, since the submission of the report of Kenya a recent measure taken by the Government was the introduction of free tuition for secondary schools. The total number of primary schools in Kenya as of 2006 was 20,229. The percentage of pupils who had to travel longer than five kilometres to reach school was 51.4 per cent.
People living in slum areas or informal settlements traditionally organized themselves to educate their populations. Once the Government was made aware of these schools, support was provided to these communities in the interim, said the delegation. The Government aimed to transition people living in these areas from using informal education systems to the formal system. Since 2007, there was a large decrease in the availability of informal schools.
In terms of reproductive health education, the delegation said that it was a controversial issue ongoing in Kenya. Therefore, the Government was not in a position to administer contraceptives. However, sexual education was compulsory in schools, and girls who became pregnant were granted the right to return back to school, whereas previously they were not. This change in policy took place due to the alarming numbers of teenage pregnancies. Despite this, the Government was not satisfied with the progress made thus far, and intended to continue efforts to combat this problem.
In 2007, educational completion rates for boys was 86.5 per cent and 75.7 per cent for girls, said the delegation. Intervention measures to encourage an increase in girls' educational completion rate included the provision of sanitary towels and the introduction of feeding programmes. With the introduction of these programmes, girls' completion rates rose from 65.2 per cent in 2003 to 75.7 per cent in 2007.
The adult literacy rate in Kenya was defined as the percentage of people aged 15 and above who could read and write a simple statement in at least one language, said the delegation. Literacy rates in urban areas totalled 90 per cent of the population and in rural areas 75.7 per cent.
The people of Kenya rejected the draft Constitution not on the basis of culture or customs, but rather on issues of devolution, said the delegation.
The Government did not allocate funds from the national budget based on ethnic groups, said the delegation. The Nubian people were covered as every other ethnic group was in the country, through the Constituency Fund.
The Government considered that it was not the right time to ratify International Labour Organization Convention 169, said the delegation. Kenyans viewed themselves as indigenous, and therefore did not consider it necessary to do so.
In her concluding remarks, AMINA MOHAMED, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for the discussion and the dialogue on Kenya's adherence to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It was an important constructive learning curve, and Kenya was committed to presenting even better measures in the next report. The shortcomings in the responses were due to the nature and state of the country. Despite this the Government was strongly committed to ensure that the highest standards of living were provided to the people of Kenya.
PHILIPPE TEXIER, Chairman of the Committee, conveyed the Committee's thanks to the delegation. The Committee was very pleased with the answers provided by the delegation. The Committee hoped to see Kenya on schedule for its next review.
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