Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Kenya to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Kenya's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part I: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

U.S. priorities are focused on promoting implementation of the reform agenda agreed to by the coalition government following the election crisis in 2008. The United States is working closely with civil society, the private sector, religious groups, and the media to press the coalition government to follow through on its commitment to conclude a successful constitutional review process; reform of the police, security services, and judiciary; and electoral and land reform. The United States is also working to strengthen parliament's legislative oversight of the executive branch; improve the watchdog capacity of civil society and the media; promote ethnic reconciliation; mitigate and manage ongoing and potential conflict; combat corruption; and support good governance. Additional areas of U.S. Government focus include promoting gender equity, encouraging emerging youth leadership and addressing the needs of disaffected youth, and strengthening respect for labor rights.

Part II: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The United States continues to support ethic reconciliation efforts and to press the coalition government to implement fully the reform agenda. U.S. officials are urging government leaders to support a peaceful referendum on Kenya's draft constitution. The United States is also asking the government to address human rights issues and to end the culture of impunity, particularly through investigation of allegations of human rights abuses by security forces, protection of human rights defenders and witnesses to the post-election violence, and prosecution of senior officials implicated in corruption. The United States funds speakers on democracy-related issues who reach leading members of civil society and university students.

The United States funds programs to promote reconciliation in areas affected by post-election violence. These programs work with community leaders – including those from different political, religious and ethnic groups – to promote unity, peace, and reform. A U.S. program assists districts affected by post-election violence to create peace committees and supports the development and implementation of a gender-sensitive national policy on conflict management and peace building. Work also continues with local media and journalists to ensure that news stories and programs are reported in a professional manner, particularly on controversial topics that could ignite conflict. The United States supports a new youth initiative to increase inter-ethnic ties, mobilize youth to call for reforms, and reduce youth unemployment.

U.S. programs continue to assist parliament in becoming a more effective and independent counterweight to the executive branch. U.S. support was instrumental in the drafting and adoption of new parliamentary rules of procedure that increased transparency and allowed for greater public participation in parliamentary deliberations. The United States supports live media coverage of parliament in order to strengthen accountability. The United States funds programs assisting oversight committees that shadow government ministries and play a watchdog role. For example, U.S. support strengthens the ability of a network of civil society organizations to lobby parliament to impact policy.

The United States provides support for Kenya's constitutional reform process as well as support to Kenya's Independent Interim Electoral Commission. For example, support includes designing and implementing a new system to transmit election results electronically in real time to eliminate the possibility of vote tampering. The U.S. also worked to strengthen the oversight and advocacy role of NGOs, such as Transparency International - Kenya. To further support anti-corruption activities, the United States is working to assist government officials in the implementation of anticorruption pledges. U.S. programs are strengthening enforcement and oversight units of government institutions such as the Department of Public Prosecutions.

A U.S. expert trained police, prosecutors, and medical personnel in the investigation and prosecution of gender-based violence through a U.S.-funded initiative. The United States funds a gender-based violence and victim support unit in a hospital in Nairobi. The U.S. supports organizations that combat gender-based violence and female genital mutilation, in refugee camps and among pastoralist communities. The United States provided for the training and equipping of community police and security teams in the Dadaab refugee camp and worked to strengthen the capacity of the local police to respond more effectively to the abuse, exploitation, and violence against refugee children in Dadaab. The United States promotes internationally recognized core labor standards and efforts to eliminate exploitive child labor. This includes U.S. funding of an American labor rights organization that works to strengthen independence and good governance of trade unions, national and regional democracy and anticorruption efforts, industrial relations, HIV/AIDS workplace programs, and implementation of labor standards in the country. A U.S.-supported multiyear project to reduce the incidence of the worst forms of child labor concluded in 2009. The United States works to combat trafficking in persons and coordinates the international donors' working group in the country. The United States continues to support work to strengthen a network of collaborative anti-trafficking efforts by the government and civil society. In addition, the United States participates with Kenya's Trafficking in Persons Task Force to draft a national trafficking action plan. The U.S. Government funds a program aimed at reducing child trafficking in the agricultural and fishing sectors.

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