Human Rights WatchWorld Report ContentsDownloadPrintOrderHRW Homepage

World map Kenya



Europe and Central Asia

Middle East and North Africa

Special Issues and Campaigns

United States


Children’s Rights

Women’s Human Rights


The Role of the International Community

The international donor community remained almost exclusively concerned with corruption and economic reform issues at the expense of human rights concerns. As a result, the government continued to make great efforts to give the appearance of economic reform, but did little toward improving human rights. The year was dominated by the government's wooing of the international financial institutions for the resumption of lending which had been suspended in 1997.

Increased concern on the part of donors and the international financial institutions about Kenya's precarious and worsening economic situation prompted the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to restore funding that had remained suspended for three years dueto concerns about corruption and "key governance criteria." In a momentous decision in July, the IMF pledged a U.S.$198 million three-year loan and the World Bank pledged a U.S.$150 million loan for budget support. The renewal of this assistance was strictly conditioned on stated reforms including audited public accounts, civil service retrenchment, strengthening of accountability institutions (namely the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority and the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General), and the enactment of an Economic Crimes Bill and Code of Ethics for public servants. Notably absent were any conditions that would have required the government to address governance criteria such as respect for the rule of law and judicial independence. The government's lack of commitment to genuinely addressing rule of law issues was underscored in October when the draft Economic Crimes Bill (a requirement of the renewed funding) it issued contained provisions that allowed the government to selectively apply the law, allowing high-ranking government officials to evade prosecution on corruption charges.

As expected, the international financial institutions' decision cleared the way for aid from other countries and institutions that had been similarly withheld. One of the first to respond was the United Kingdom (U.K.), a traditional ally of President Moi, whose minister for international development Clare Short announced the immediate release of some U.S. $42 million (U.K. £30 million) in budget support for civil service reform. The European Union (E.U.) followed suit with U.S. $30 million for the power sector, and the African Development Bank pledged U.S. $50 million for infrastructure maintenance. It was also expected that the renewed IMF aid would allow Kenya to reschedule her debt payments and to push for a Consultative Group meeting for bilateral donors to make new pledges for project aid.

The approach of the international community-in considering corruption and economic reform measures as wholly distinct from good governance issues such as political accountability and other rights-fell short of addressing the key issue, absolute executive control, which was at the heart of Kenya's political crisis. The Dutch Government was the only government that remained firm about the link, reiterating that all bilateral development assistance to Kenya would end by 2002 due to "bad governance, human rights abuses, and impeded democratization."

United States

Although human rights concerns remained on the U.S. agenda, trade and economic concerns as well as international terrorism tended to take precedence over human rights. As did other donors, the U.S. focused its attention on criticizing corruption. In 2000, U.S. development aid to Kenya totaled U.S.$34.95 million, including $5.85 million for political reform and democratization, $10.7 million for environmental issues, and $18.4 million for women's reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programs. Approximately two-thirds of this aid was allocated to program assistance directed almost entirely to nongovernmental organizations. Following the murder of Father John Kaiser, Federal Bureau of Investigations agents were sent to help the Kenyan police to investigate the case and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright pledged that the U.S. would follow the case closely.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

Current Events

The Latest News - Archive




Democratic Republic of Congo

Federal Republic of Ethiopia






Sierra Leone

South Africa





Copyright © 2001
Human RIghts Watch