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Kenya at 50: unrealized rights of minorities and indigenous peoples
Minority Rights Group International
8 March 2012
On the 50th anniversary of Kenya’s independence, many minority and indigenous communities feel that despite some constitutional gains, increased ethnicization of politics has deepened their exclusion, making their situation worse today than it was in 2005, a new Minority Rights Group International (MRG) report shows.
The report titled ‘Kenya at 50’, reviews the current status of minority and indigenous groups in Kenya, particularly how legal and policy changes over the last five years have responded to the social, economic and political challenges confronting them. (…)
(…) Focusing on Kenya’s 2010 Constitution, this report pays particular attention to how legal and policy changes over the last five years have responded to the social, economic and political challenges confronting minorities.
Kenya’s new Constitution is a progressive document that aims to address the failed legal and moral systems created by earlier colonial and postcolonial regimes. The country’s previous constitutional order alienated most citizens from the state, but minority and indigenous communities have borne the brunt of this exclusion. Further, this system reproduced and strengthened differences between Kenya’s diverse groups – mainly ethnic and religious – rather than building a pluralistic society that tolerates all shades of diversity based on equality before the law.
The present state of minority and indigenous groups within Kenya’s dynamic context has been shaped by conflicting forces of regression and progress responding to the 2007 post-electoral violence, the new Constitution and the forthcoming 2012 elections. (…)
(…) Although Kenya’s new Constitution contains numerous positive provisions for minorities and other vulnerable groups generally, this report shows that the prevailing experience of minorities in Kenya is increased vulnerability. (…) The report describes the ongoing challenges facing minority and indigenous groups: lack of political participation, discrimination and weak protection of their right to development.
Responding to the deep-seated disempowerment of minorities on the one hand and the opportunities presented by the new constitutional framework on the other, the report recommends that principles of multiculturalism should be established in every sector of society, including in education. It urges the Kenyan government to facilitate the political participation of minorities and put a stop to targeted police harassment of minority groups in the country.
Directed at non-governmental organizations (NGOs), policy actors and the media, the report warns that failure to ensure inclusion of minorities and address the anxieties of majorities, particularly in the context of county governments in the run-up to the 2012 elections and beyond, will lead to untold conflict, driving the reform agenda several years back.
To read the press release, see here.
To read the full report, see here.


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