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The Role of the International Community
In the lead-up to the election, Kenya’s main donors played a positive role in pushing the government to concede to domestic demands for genuine pluralism. Donors took a more unified public stand around human rights than in the past, although they stopped short of placing human rights conditions on donor aid. In a series of joint statements in 1997, several donor countries criticized police brutality, government harassment of the opposition, and the need to respect the rights to life, speech, assembly, and association.

Donors continued to unite to protest human rights problems during the year, although less frequently than in 1997. On election day, international observers from twenty-two embassies, known as the Donor’s Democratic Development Group, monitored the process. This group issued a January 9, 1998 statement noting that “a significant number of young Kenyans were denied the right to register [to vote] as they had not received their identity cards in time.” The statement also noted that the government’s minimal constitutional reforms did improve the political climate and reduce violence, however “the timing of these reforms just prior to the elections reduced their ability to level sufficiently the playing field.” The same group also issued another statement in January 1998 expressing concern over the outbreak of “ethnic” violence and the “slow and ineffective response by security forces.”

Following the election, international attention to the human rights situation declined significantly. Small concessions orpromises by the Kenyan government, often not carried through, were hailed as major steps forward, missing the ongoing pattern of government unwillingness to promote and protect rights. During 1998, international attention focused mainly on Kenya’s worsening economic situation and its dismal record on corruption. The international financial instititutions remained dissatisfied with the lack of economic reform occurring in Kenya, and World Bank and IMF funding remained suspended since 1997 pending progress on corruption. There were some preliminary attempts by twenty-four of Kenya’s donors to produce a document setting out ways for donors to better coordinate their funding efforts with regard to promoting human rights and good governance in Kenya. It is hoped that this document will be put into effect by Kenya’s donors.

European Union
The E.U. did not have a central focus on human rights in Kenya, although it did raise concerns where rights violations impeded good governance. The E.U. signed several joint statements with other donors during the year. On January 6, 1998, the E.U. released a strong statement on the Kenyan elections noting that “in several respects, the process fell short of normal democratic standards...The 1997 elections, despite the shortcomings, may be seen as a further step in Kenya’s development towards greater democracy. It is clear that despite positive developments in recent years, that process still has far to go. A democratic culture has yet to take root across the country.” The statement concluded by urging that the constitutional review process was of “central significance” and needed to be embarked on immediately.

The European Commission has a budget of about two million ecus to spend to promote good governance in Kenya over a five year period. However, this amount remains untouched, largely due to the lack of progress by the Kenyan government on governance issues.

United States
Although human rights concerns remained on the U.S. agenda, trade and economic concerns as well as the embassy bombing tended to take precedence over the human rights situation. Kenya was visited by a number of high-ranking U.S. officials. In February, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa Rev. Jesse Jackson, visited Kenya and toured areas of the Rift Valley affected by the political violence. Rev. Jackson spoke out strongly against the violence both publicly and in a meeting with President Moi. As a result of his urging, President Moi visited the affected areas shortly after. This was the second trip by Rev. Jackson and a welcome change from the silence on human rights issues during his previous visit.

In March, President Clinton’s trip through several sub-Saharan countries by-passed Kenya due in part to its lack of progress on economic and human rights reform. President Moi was one of several African presidents who met President Clinton in Uganda and signed the U.S.-inspired Entebbe communique that pledged its signatories to uphold human rights. The Clinton visit also made time to allow the voice of the Kenyan human rights community to be heard. During Clinton’s visit to Senegal, Kenyan Archbishop Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki participated in a face-to-face session held with civil society and human rights activists and spoke of human rights violations in Kenya.

In July and September, economic and trade concerns were raised in visits by Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Commerce Secretary William Daley respectively. During his visit, Secretary Rubin noted that U.S. assistance would be predicated on continued economic and political reforms, but did not raise human rights concerns in any further detail. Secretary Daley made no public reference to human rights concerns. In August, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Kenya following the bombing of the U.S. Embassy to express her sympathies.

In 1998, U.S. development aid to Kenya totaled U.S.$23.5 million. Approximately two-thirds of this aid was allocated to program assistance directed almost entirely to nongovernmental organizations.




The Democratic Republic of Congo







Sierra Leone

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Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Abduction and Enslavement of Ugandan Children

Human Rights Causes of the Famine in Sudan


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