Kenya, with a population of 34 million, is a republic dominated by a strong presidency. The president is both the chief of state and head of government. In 2002 citizens elected Mwai Kibaki of the opposition National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) as the country's third president. Kibaki succeeded Daniel Arap Moi, who led the former ruling party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), and who served as president from 1978 to 2002. During the 2002 general elections, KANU, which had controlled both the presidency and the parliament continuously since 1963, lost its parliamentary majority to NARC, a coalition of more than a dozen political parties. Observers concluded that the elections reflected the popular will and were free and fair. While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were some instances in which the security forces, particularly the police, acted independently of government authority.
The government in many areas respected the human rights of its citizens or attempted to institute reforms to address deficiencies. However, serious problems remained, particularly with regard to abuses by the police. The following human rights problems were reported: unlawful killings, torture and use of excessive force by police; police impunity; harsh and life‑threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged pretrial detention; executive influence on the judiciary; incidents of disrespect for freedom of speech and the press; government corruption; abuse of and discrimination against women; female genital mutilation (FGM); child prostitution and labor; trafficking in persons; vigilante justice; interethnic violence; lack of enforcement of workers' rights.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed politically motivated killings during the year; however, security forces did commit arbitrary or unlawful killings. A High Court judge noted in a September report that the government had not demonstrated a commitment to adequate investigation of cases of extrajudicial deaths.
By year's end, a special committee of parliament had not yet released its May 2005 reportimplicating a former minister and several government officials in the 1990 murder of then foreign minister Robert Ouko.
The Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU), a leading human rights Non-governmental organization (NGO), reported that 287 extrajudicial killings occurred during the year. The IMLU attributed the increase in killings to the government's March 2005 "shoot-to-kill" directive. During the year 380 cases of torture were reported; 13 torture cases during the year resulted in death (see section 1.c.). In addition, 19 extrajudicial killings showed signs of torture.
In June police killed two persons suspected of involvement in an attempted mugging. Police subsequently arrested a third person who fled the scene, named Odongo. Witnesses reported that Odongo, whose body was found at the city mortuary a month later, was uninjured when arrested. According to a postmortem done by IMLU, the cause of Odongo's death was two gunshots to the head. No action was taken against the perpetrators of the three killings.
In September Pius Kiare was shot and killed by police at Kiambu police station after being arrested for possessing a gun. The IMLU concluded that Kiare also suffered injuries including a broken back and pelvic bone.
Police continued their 2005 "shoot-to-kill" policy, and there were reports of summary police executions. In March 2005 the minister of internal security issued a "shoot‑to‑kill" order against anyone found in possession of an illegal firearm; later that month, the minister explained that he meant for officers only to defend themselves if fired upon. During the year security forces continued to assert that the "shoot to kill" policy was necessary because of the large number of firearms in the hands of criminals. Police claimed that criminals' frequent use of sophisticated weapons had increased the risks faced by police in performing their duties.
In June 2005the Parliamentary Committee on National Security summoned the commissioner of police to explain why the police had recently killed so many individuals. No reports had been published by year's end, and none were expected.
There were many reports of police being killed and injured by armed criminals, but statistics were unavailable.
Police killed numerous criminal suspects during the year. For example, on February 12, police in Kiambu shot and killed a suspected mugger. On March 14, police in Kisumu shot and killed seven would-be mattress thieves. On December 21, police shot and killed five suspected bank robbers in Nairobi. No action was taken against the perpetrators in any of the cases.
There were no reported developments in the March 2005 case inwhich Nairobi police officers executed three robbery suspects, or in the May 2005 killings by police of five unarmed men in separate incidents across the country.
Police also killed civilians at checkpoints. For example, on July 25, Nairobi police stopped three men at a checkpoint, ordered them from their vehicles, then shot and killed them while they knelt by the roadside.
There were reports that persons died while in police custody or shortly thereafter, occasionally as a result of torture (see section 1.c.). For example, on January 30, the media reported that the families of two men had accused police in Mombasa of drowning the men after arresting them in connection witha drug investigation. Police officials stated they would open an inquest to investigate the deaths.
According to a January 26 media report, murder suspect Wycliffe Ngare Onyancha died while in detention at the Nyamira police station. A doctor's examination determined the cause of death to be beatings to the chest, abdomen, and limbs. Although Onyancha's family petitioned the police to take action against the officers who interrogated him, no action had been taken against the police officers involved by year's end.
Also in January a local member of parliament urged police to investigate the deaths of two robbery suspects. Local residents claimed the suspects died while in police custody; however, police claimed the suspects died while being transported to the hospital.
The IMLU investigated the deaths during the year of at least three persons at the Sultan Hamud police station in Machakos District. The postmortem examinations found evidence of torture. The IMLU reported its results to the police commissioner; however, no action was taken against the officers.
On March 17, two suspects were charged in the December 2005 killing of Hassan Ahmed Abdillahi, the Kenya Ports Authority District Investigation Officer. Abdillahi had been involved in the investigation of governmental corruption linked to international trafficking of narcotics and other contraband through the port.
The 2004 murder trial of six prison guards accused of the 2000 killings of six prisoners was ongoing. Press reports indicated that the trial had been adjourned nearly 20 times for a variety of reasons, including the transfer of the presiding judge.
The trial of several wardens for their roles in the suspicious deaths of seven death row inmates in 2000 had been partly heard during the year and was scheduled to resume in January 2007.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that excessive force by the police to disperse demonstrations and strikes resulted in deaths.
There were numerous instances of mob violence and vigilante justice. The great majority of victims killed by mobs were suspected of criminal activities, including robbery, killings, cattle rustling, and membership in terror gangs. The government rarely made arrests or prosecuted the perpetrators of these acts.
For example, the media reported in June that residents of Kisii had killed at least 20 persons over a three-month period during the year.
On January 10, a mob in Nakuru beat to death two suspected carjackers.
On January 12, passengers traveling on a mini bus near Nyeri beat to death a man who was allegedly attempting to rob them.
On March 11, villagers in Karatina killed two alleged robbers by slitting their throats.
There were no reports that official action was taken during the year against the perpetrators of the following 2005 cases of mob violence: the stoning death in Nairobi of a man caught sodomizing a minor and the killing of a man caught stealing in January; the April incident in which villagers in the Kiambu District killed a 17‑year‑old‑boy who was allegedly stealing household goods; the beating death of a man in Meru District who allegedly had sodomized a 13‑year‑old boy in April; the stoning death of a gang member in Kisumu in June; or the killing in Molo of a man who had burned his parents to death in August.
Human rights observers attributed this vigilante violence to a lack of public confidence in police and the judicial process. In September the IMLU reported that community policing also contributed to the high incidence of mob violence. The social acceptability of mob violence also sometimes provided cover for personal vengeance and the settling of land disputes.
Mob violence against individuals suspected of witchcraft was a problem, particularly in Kisii, Nyanza, and the Western Province. Human rights NGOs noted a reluctance among the public to report such cases due to fear of retribution. On June 26, a man and a woman who were suspected practitioners of witchcraft were killed by a mob in Kisii.
Interethnic violence continued to cause numerous deaths (see section 5).
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices, and the government took steps to eliminate prisoner abuse. There continued to be documented instances of police using violence and torture during interrogations and as punishment of both pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. According to the IMLU's 2005-2006 annual report, common methods of torture involved the use of whips, burning with cigarettes, and beatings by blunt force including gun butts and wooden clubs.
Detainees frequently claimed that they had been tortured or abused, making it difficult to separate real from fabricated incidents. Human rights organizations, churches, and the press highlighted and criticized numerous cases of torture and several cases of indiscriminate police beatings. During the year the IMLU received 380 cases alleging torture by security officers, compared to 397 allegations received in 2005, although they noted this number was below the actual incidence. The IMLU reported that 13 torture cases resulted in death (see section 1.a.).
Because the police themselves were responsible for investigating and prosecuting most crimes, reports from the IMLU and other human rights organizations that provided evidence of torture by security forces were routinely ignored.
A January media report stated that in December 2005 two men in Nyamira District were apprehended by police officers for murder. The two later died in police custody. Police officials chargedthat the men fainted during interrogation and died at the hospital where they were taken for treatment. A January 26 media report indicated that a post-mortem examination of one of the men showed evidence of torture. There were no reports of action taken against the police.
In February an inmate at Shimo la Tewa Prison in Mombasa was allegedly beaten by an officer. Although the inmate reported the case to the senior officers, no action was taken against the prison official. The IMLU intervened and the inmate was released.
On June 20, municipal guards arrested Michael Okumu Kasera, a pro bono lawyer with the IMLU, accusing him of being a street hawker. The guards attempted to extort a bribe, which Kasera refused, and then proceeded to beat him, breaking his arm in the process. He was then taken to the Central Police Station. There were no reports of action taken against the guards or police.
According to an April 6 media report, a police officer suspected of a July 2005 murder alleged during his murder trial that he had been tortured by 10 other policemen while in custody. There was no report of a separate investigation into the torture claims.
On September 6, a human rights tribunal ordered the government to pay journalist Peter Makori approximately $70,190 (5,053,671 shillings) for torture and illegal detention by the police in 2003 (see section 4).
The IMLU's investigation into the case of Salim Elijah Masinde failed to find evidence of torture. Masinde, an inmate since 1988 in Kamiti Prison, reported in February 2005 that he had been severely beaten while in custody.
Police occasionally used excessive force to disperse demonstrations and strikes, which resulted in injuries (see section 2.b.).
Police occasionally abused street children (see section 5). The Kenyan National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) issued a report during the year that noted that street children formed cooperatives in which each member contributed regularly to a fund to bribe police.
There were allegations of rape by security forces, including the rapes of women in prisons and refugee camps. There were no known investigations conducted during the year regarding the June 2005 complaints that soldiers raped women as they were evicting them from illegal settlements in the Mau forest earlier in the month.
On January 6, villagers beat a man and woman in Taita-Taveta for allegedly having practiced witchcraft. The victims were reportedly hired to use witchcraft to "cleanse" the village, but residents eventually accused the couple of using sorcery against the villagers instead. Police responded and saved the couple from further injury.
There were no further developments in the March 2005 case in which a couple in Kakamega District was arrested for possessing traditional charms and subsequently released on bond or in the December 2005 case in which two persons appeared in court for allegedly killing two family members whom they suspected of practicing witchcraft.
Societal acts of violence, including rape, banditry, and shootings, occurred frequently near refugee camps (see section 2.d.).
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions continued to be harsh and life-threatening, although the government attempted to make some improvements. Most prisons, particularly the men's facilities, continued to be severely overcrowded. In March 93 prisons housed more than 50,000 inmates, more than three times their intended capacity of 16,000. Meru prison had three times more inmates than its intended capacity. As of February, Thika prison, built for a population of 300, housed 966 inmates. A backlog of cases in the judicial system also contributed to prison overcrowding (see section 1.d.). On August 4, Vice President Moody Awori announced the government's plan to hire more judges and magistrates to expedite cases, and to expand the community service order program used to sentence petty offenders to community service, rather than confinement. Implementation of this program was too slow to effectively address overcrowding, although Awori stated on July 31 that 56,000 offenders had benefited from it.
Reforms improved conditions in some prisons. In early September the prisons department established a health unit to improve the delivery of health services to inmates. Some facilities offered access to academic classes, enabling a number of prisoners to sit for national exams, or vocational training, such as carpentry or tailoring. Charitable associations organized occasional medical clinics for inmates.
Prisoners generally received three meals per day, but portions were inadequate, and prisoners were sometimes given half rations as punishment. Water shortages continued to be a problem.
Civil society organizations began visiting prisons in 2003, and these visits continued to reveal harsh conditions as well as allegations by prisoners of inhumane treatment and torture. Such treatment, perpetrated by police, prison guards, and inmates at times resulted in deaths (see section 1.d.).
Prison personnel stated that rapes of both male and female inmates, primarily by fellow inmates, continued to be a problem. A June 26 media report indicated that it was not uncommon for prison officials to rape female inmates. Experts believed the incidence of HIV infection to be increasing among the prison population, although statistics were difficult to obtain because there were no voluntary counseling or testing services in most prisons. Hundreds of prisoners died annually from infectious diseases caused by overcrowding and inadequate medical treatment. For example, on July 21, a court ruled that the 2004 deaths of five prisoners at Meru G. K. Prison were a result of prison overcrowding, that prison conditions had been inhumane, and that the government should expand the prison.
Prisoners sometimes were kept in solitary confinement far longer than the legal maximum of 90 days. Prisoners and detainees sometimes were denied the right to contact relatives or lawyers. Family members who visited prisoners faced numerous bureaucratic and physical obstacles, each often requiring a bribe to overcome. An NGO reported that citizens were more likely to face extortion attempts by members of the prison service than by employees of any other government agency. On May 29, Vice President Moody Awori, who was responsible for the prison system in his capacity as minister for home affairs, acknowledged that bribery occurred throughout the country's jails and prisons.
There were no developments in the ongoing trial of three prison guards charged with helping 28 pretrial detainees escape from Naivasha prison.
There were no separate facilities for minors in pretrial detention. At year's end, there were no known developments in the August 2005 petition by 31 pretrial detainees in Embu prison to separate young boys from their adult counterparts because of allegations of sodomy in the cells. A February 2005 media report noted that High Court judges touring King'ong'omaximum security prison discovered several minors, one only 15 years old, serving long sentences among adult prisoners. The judges ordered the prison to provide information on the minors' convictions and imprisonment in order to conduct a review, but there were no known developments in the review during the year. In January a judiciary subcommittee report recommended that judges and magistrates visit prisons regularly to ensure that children are not confined with adult inmates.
A number of children under the age of four lived with their mothers in the 14 prisons for women. Nationwide data were unavailable, but two prisons, Nyeri and Thika, housed 27 and 12 children, respectively.
The KNCHR, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), had the authority to inspect prison facilities on demand at any time, but the government did not permit consistent independent monitoring of prison conditions. During the year the KNCHR conducted 19 visits, the IMLU conducted five visits, and the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic Kenya conducted one visit; there were no ICRC visits. Members of the media were selectively allowed visits.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The law prohibits arrest or detention absent a court order unless there is reasonable suspicion of a suspect having committed, or being about to commit, a criminal offense under the law; however, police occasionally arrested and detained citizens arbitrarily.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
There was a large internal security apparatus that included the police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS), the national police, the administration police, and the paramilitary General Services Unit. The CID investigates criminal activity, and the NSIS collects intelligence and monitors persons considered subversive. These security forces are under the authority of the Ministry of State for Provincial Administration and National Security in the Office of the President. There was a public perception that police often were involved or complicit in criminal activity.
The results of a public perception survey released July 5 and conducted by the Kenya Anticorruption Commission (KACC) found that 86.3 percent of citizens considered the police the most corrupt government institution. The NGO Transparency International (TI) reported the same finding in its Kenya Bribery Index 2006, which stated that extortion by police increased in 2005, in contrast with the improvements reported from 2003 to 2004. The average bribe amount, however, decreased dramatically from approximately $152 (10,831 shillings) in 2004 to $20 (1,465 shillings) in 2005, a decrease which TI attributed to reforms in the public transportation sector.
On August 15, The Nation reported that 19 traffic police officers had been arrested for accepting bribes.
On September 5, a policeman in Nakuru was sentenced to four years in prison for taking a bribe of approximately $70 (5,000 shillings) to terminate a criminal case. On November 7, his appeal was denied.
Police, in collusion with prosecutors, resorted to unexplained illegal confinements, extortion, torture, and highly questionable and fabricated charges as a cover‑up for malpractice.
Impunity was a problem. Police officers were only occasionally arrested and prosecuted for corruption or for using excessive force. Authorities sometimes attributed the absence of an investigation into corruption or an unlawful killing to the failure of citizens to file official complaints. However, the required complaint form was available only at police stations, and there was considerable public skepticism of a process that assigned the investigation of police abuse to the police themselves.
During the year the government took some steps to curb abuses of authority by police. In August the police commissioner inaugurated and deployed a special police squad that included undercover detectives whose mandate was to combat corruption in the police force during traffic stops. The government arrested and charged some police officers for various offenses, including corruption, although the government did not provide details on how many of these indicted police officers were tried, acquitted, convicted, or imprisoned.
Arrest and Detention
Individuals may be apprehended on suspicion since police may make arrests without a warrant. By law, detainees must be brought before a court within 24 hours in noncapital offenses and within 14 days in capital cases; the penal code specifically excludes weekends and holidays from this 14‑day period. While persons who are charged may be released on bail with a bond or other assurance of the suspect's return, many indigent pretrial detainees could not afford bail.
Although the law provides families and attorneys access to pretrial detainees, security forces rarely allowed access in practice (see section 1.c.).
The law does not stipulate the period within which the trial of a charged suspect must begin. Police from the arresting location are responsible for serving court summons and for picking up detainees from the prison each time the courts hear their cases. Police often failed to show up or lacked the means to transport the detainees, who then were forced to await the next hearing of their case.
Arbitrary arrest was a problem. Police often arrested citizens with the sole purpose of extorting bribes.
On January 13, the internal security minister stated that the government would continue operations to arrest and crack down on members of the Mungiki, a banned cultural, religious, and political movement and criminal protection racket based in part on Kikuyu religious traditions. Police arrested more than 250 suspected members on January 30, approximately 100 on February 3, and approximately 800 in December.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that police arbitrarily arrested persons demonstrating against the parliament.
Lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a serious problem that contributed to overcrowding in prisons. In February, 65 percent of inmates in Thika prison were in remand. In 2005 the backlog of judicial cases resulted in a daily average of 21,474 pretrial detainees being held, constituting nearly 45 percent of the total prison population. The government claimed the average time spent by suspects in pretrial detention on capital charges was approximately 16 months; however, many detainees spent more than three years in prison before their trials were completed. Very few could afford attorneys. The government acknowledged cases in which persons were held in pretrial detention for several years.
On April 19, four men who had been in remand for 11 years were released after being acquitted of murder charges.
In July the government released nearly 8,000 prisoners to ease prison congestion.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Although the constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, the executive branch often influenced the judiciary. In December the African Peer Review Mechanism reported a "visible lack of independence of the judiciary" in the country.
The president has extensive powers over appointments, including those of the attorney general, the chief justice, and appeal and High Court judges. The president also can dismiss judges and the attorney general upon the recommendation of a special tribunal appointed by the president. Although judges have life tenure (except for a very few foreign judges hired by contract), the president has extensive authority over transfers. In January a judiciary subcommittee recommended increased transparency in the process of filling judges' positions.
Reforms begun in 2003 reduced corruption in the judiciary to some extent, but were criticized for coming up short. Of 23 judges suspended in 2003, 16 took early retirement. Of seven who were to face tribunals, one was cleared of any wrongdoing, one was awaiting a verdict, one was reinstated by the president, and four had yet to begin proceedings. In March 2005 the chief justice formed a committee to probe complaints against the judiciary. There were reports during the year that the committee was investigating members of the judiciary for unethical conduct, but the results of these investigations were not made public. In August the Ministry of Justice announced it would form a public complaints unit, noting that corruption had contributed to the judiciary's inability to adequately protect human rights. By year's end the unit was holding weekly sessions during which the public could file complaints with the ministry's director of human rights affairs.
The government occasionally used the legal system to harass government critics; some civil society organizations reported that the anticorruption commission was used for this purpose.
The court system consists of a Court of Appeals, a High Court, and two levels of magistrate courts, where most criminal and civil cases originated. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. The chief justice is a member of both the Court of Appeals and the High Court. All judges in the Court of Appeals and the High Court are appointed by the president upon recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission; magistrates are hired by the commission. Criminal law trials are conducted by magistrate courts, while the High Court and Court of Appeals hear appeals. Civil cases may be heard by any of the courts, depending on the nature of the case.
Civilians are tried publicly, although some testimony may be given in closed session. The law provides for a presumption of innocence, and defendants have the right to attend their trials, to confront witnesses, and to present witnesses and evidence. Civilians also can appeal a verdict to the High Court and ultimately to the Court of Appeals. Judges hear all cases. In treason and murder cases, the deputy registrar of the High Court can appoint three assessors to sit with the High Court judge. The assessors are taken from all walks of life and receive a sitting allowance for the case. Although the assessors render verdicts, their judgments are not binding. Defendants' lawyers can object to the appointments of specific assessors.
Defendants do not have the right to government‑provided legal counsel except in capital cases. For lesser charges free legal aid rarely was available and then only in Nairobi and other major cities where some human rights organizations, notably the Federation of Women Lawyers, assured that it was provided. As a result, poor persons may be convicted for lack of an adequate defense. Defense lawyers do not always have access to government‑held evidence in advance of a trial. The government may plead the State Security Secrets Law as a basis for withholding evidence, and local officials sometimes classified documents to hide the guilt of government officials. Court fees for filing and hearing cases were high for ordinary citizens. The daily rate of at least $28 (2,040 shillings) for arguing a civil case before a judge was beyond the reach of most citizens.
The law provides for Islamic courts that use Shari'a (Islamic law) and states that the "jurisdiction of a Kadhi's court shall extend to the determination of questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce, or inheritance in proceedings in which all the parties profess the Muslim religion." There are no other traditional courts in the country. The national courts used the law of an ethnic group as a guide in civil matters as long as it did not conflict with statutory law. This occurred most often in cases that involved marriage, death, and inheritance issues and in which there was an original contract founded in traditional law. Citizens may choose between national and traditional law when they enter into marriage or other contracts; however, thereafter the courts determine which kind of law governs the enforcement of the contract. Some women's organizations sought to eliminate traditional law, arguing that it was biased in favor of men (see section 5).
Military personnel are tried by military court‑martial, and verdicts may be appealed through military court channels. The chief justice appoints attorneys for military personnel on a case‑by‑case basis.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has the power of a court. It can issue summonses or other orders. If satisfied that an infringement on human rights has taken place, it can order the release of a prisoner or detainee, payment of compensation, or other lawful remedy.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, except "to promote public benefit;" however, authorities sometimes infringed on citizens' privacy rights. The law permits police to enter a home forcibly if the time required to obtain a search warrant would prejudice the investigation. Although security officers generally obtained search warrants, they occasionally conducted searches without warrants to apprehend suspected criminals or to seize property believed stolen. Police and the intelligence service continued to professionalize and modernize and to limit actions that could qualify as interference.
On January 4, the government completed the eviction from the Mau forest of approximately 600 squatters who had returned to the area after the government evicted approximately 10,200 of them in June 2005 for living illegally on protected lands. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that security forces raped some of the evictees. Although some of the 2005 evictees had title deeds, the government claimed that the deeds were issued years ago as political patronage in violation of the law. The government's resettlement plan had not been implemented by year's end.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, but the government sometimes restricted these rights in practice. Security forces harassed, beat, or arrested members of the media during the year. There were credible reports that journalists practiced self‑censorship.
The government occasionally interpreted existing laws to restrict freedom of expression. The legal prohibition of debates on issues under court consideration and a parliamentary ruling against debates on certain aspects of presidential conduct limited the scope of deliberation on a number of political issues. The government monitors many types of civil meetings that would be considered outside the purview of more open societies and individuals were not always allowed to criticize the government publicly without reprisal.
The media remained independent despite both verbal and physical attacks on it by members of the government and security forces. The mainstream print media included four daily newspapers that reported on national politics and occasionally criticized the government. There also were numerous independent tabloid periodicals that appeared irregularly and were highly critical of the government. Reporting in these tabloids ranged from revealing insider reports to unsubstantiated rumor mongering.
Of the several television stations operating in Nairobi, the government‑owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) was the only station with a national network of broadcast and cable television, AM and FM radio, and short‑wave broadcasts. Although KBC coverage continued to become more balanced, its monopoly on national broadcasting continued to limit the ability of opposition leaders and other critics of the government to communicate with the electorate outside the capital. Stations owned by other media companies, including 12 radio stations, operated primarily along the country's central corridor and more densely populated adjacent regions.
The international media remained free to operate; 120 international correspondents worked in the country, and approximately 100 media organizations reported out of Nairobi. There were three international FM broadcasters in Nairobi: Radio France International, Voice of America, and the BBC.
On April 22, a cabinet subcommittee proposed limits on individual shares in media houses, which media outlets viewed as an attempt by the government to deal with a hostile press.
During the year government officials repeatedly accused local media of being irresponsible and disseminating misinformation. Journalists continued to be susceptible to harassment, intimidation, and arrest. For example, in late February two journalists worked for the Standard were arrested for writing an allegedly false story about a meeting between President Kibaki and opposition leader Kalonzo Musyoka. On February 28, the government demanded a retraction of the story. On September 29, the case against the journalists was dismissed.
On March 2, two days after the two Standard journalists were arrested, security forces raided the Standard newspaper and its sister television station, Kenyan Television Network, destroying equipment, confiscating computers, and burning copies of the next day's paper. Two Standard staff members were taken into custody but later released without charge. The minister for provincial administration and national security stated that the attack had been warranted on security grounds and would be repeated if necessary. At year's end, the government had held no one responsible for the raid, which sparked widespread public condemnation of the government's attack on media freedom. Experts reported that the attack did not appear to intimidate the media, which continued to criticize the government.
On February 22, 11 persons associated with the Weekly Citizen were charged with publishing an alarming story. They were released on bond and their cases were pending at year's end.
On April 26, the speaker of the house banned Royal Media House from covering parliament's proceedings after Citizen Radio (part of Royal Media) broadcast a program that unfavorably depicted members of parliament.
On August 16, the government withdrew its case against a Kenya Times writer and editor who had been arrested in September 2005 for publishing an opinion piece that officials considered inflammatory.
In a November 17 ruling, the court upheld the dismissal of a 2005 suit filed by a journalist from the Nation against First Lady Lucy Kibaki; in May 2005 Kibaki forcibly entered the Nation media house to protest negative press coverage and assaulted a television journalist and damaged his camera.
On February 17, a journalist with the People Daily newspaper was sentenced to six months in prison for "publishing an "alarming story" in 1999 about militiamen robbing elite guards. The judge ruled the article could have caused fear among the people.
The media bill requires publishers to purchase a bond of $12,800 (one million shillings) before printing any publication and to deposit copies of their newspapers and books with a registrar within two weeks of publication. The law criminalizes the sale or distribution of publications not deposited or bonded, under penalty of a fine of $256 (21,000 shillings) or six months' imprisonment. Some members of the media were concerned that the government would use this law, as well as the Books and Newspapers Act and the Official Secrets Act, to stifle freedom of expression; however, the law was not strictly enforced.
The regulatory framework for broadcast media continued to allow abuse and manipulation in the issuance, withholding, and revoking of broadcast permits and frequencies.
On March 10, a court ruled that the frequency assigned to the East African Television Network had been blocked unfairly by the government in an effort to deny the station a broadcasting license.
Individual journalists practiced self‑censorship due to both pressure and bribes from government officials and other influential persons to avoid reporting on issues that could harm the interests of these persons or expose their alleged wrongdoings. There also were credible reports that journalists accepted payments to report certain stories, some of which were fabricated.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that individuals associated with government officials used criminal libel laws to intimidate journalists and publications.
Sedition was not grounds for censorship of publications; however, the Prohibited Publications Review Board reviewed publication bans. A number of publications remained banned, including such works as the Quotations of Chairman Mao Zedong and Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chatrooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by electronic mail. Public access to the Internet was limited in rural areas with a less developed infrastructure. During the year the Ministry of Communications estimated that 1.5 million citizens used the Internet.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly, and there were fewer reports than in the previous year that the government restricted this right. Organizers must notify the local police in advance of planned public meetings, and authorities may cancel such gatherings only if there are simultaneous meetings previously scheduled for the same venue or if there are specific security threats.
Police forcibly dispersed demonstrators, although there were fewer such reports than in the previous year. For example, on December 5, police used tear gas to disperse a demonstration of opposition leaders.
On May 18, police freed 38 persons charged with incitement following clashes during an October 2005 rally in Kisumu that resulted in the deaths of four persons.
At year's end, the government had not prosecuted any police officers for four deaths that occurred at a November 2005 rally in Kisumu after police disrupted the rally for being held without permission. Police did not publicly respond to a KNCHR report alleging their responsibility.
No action was taken against security forces that used excessive force to disperse demonstrations in 2005 and 2004.
Freedom of Association
The constitution and law provide for freedom of association, and the government generally respected this right in practice. The Societies Act requires that every association be registered or exempted from registration by the registrar of societies. Approximately 40 political parties were registered. There were reports that new parties encountered difficulties in registering during the year.
The 2002 ban on membership in Mungiki remained in effect. In previous years the Mungiki espoused political views and cultural practices that were controversial in mainstream society; many of its members engaged in criminal activities, particularly in the public transportation sector, and harassed and intimidated residents in areas where the group was active. The number of Mungiki members was unknown, but the group had a significant following among the unemployed and other marginalized segments of society. Other groups that remained banned included the Kamjesh, Chinnololo, Sanina Youth, Baghdad Boys, Jehila Embakai, Jeshi la Mzee, Nmachuma, and the Taliban.
c. Freedom of Religion
The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice. There was considerable tolerance among religious groups; however, some Muslims believed they were treated as second‑class citizens in the predominantly Christian country. In a 2004 human rights survey, only 7percent of citizens listed limited freedom of worship as a problem; however, in the majority Muslim Coast Province, 31 percent perceived freedom of religion to be insufficiently protected.
The government required religious organizations to register with the registrar of societies. The government allowed traditional indigenous religious organizations to register, although many chose not to do so. Religious organizations generally received equal treatment from the government; however, some small splinter groups found it difficult to register due to their inability to define their status as more than an offshoot of a larger religious organization.
According to Muslim leaders, authorities rigorously scrutinized the identification cards of persons with Muslim surnames, particularly ethnic Somalis, and sometimes required additional documentation of citizenship, such as birth certificates of parents and even grandparents. The government stated that the heightened scrutiny was an attempt to deter illegal immigration rather than to discriminate against ethnic Somalis or their religious affiliation.
Witchcraft was illegal but still practiced (see section 1.c.).
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
There were no reports of societal violence, harassment, or discrimination against members of religious groups. The Jewish community constituted less than 1 percent of the population, and there were no reports of anti‑Semitic acts.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2006 International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The constitution and law provide for these rights, and the government generally respected them in practice.
Police routinely stopped vehicles and checked vehicle safety and driver documents on roads throughout the country. Police often committed extortion at such checkpoints. Ethnic Somalis were required to provide additional identification (see section 2.c.).
Civil servants and members of parliament must obtain government permission for international travel, which generally was granted.
The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not use it in practice. However, John Githongo, who resigned in 2005 as the government's highest anticorruption official (see section 3), remained in self‑imposed exile outside of the country out of fear for his safety.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
An unknown proportion of the several thousand persons displaced by ethnic clashes from the 1990s to the present had not returned to their homes due to fear of renewed violence. The government provided shelter, food, and transport to IDPs, and coordinated support services with NGOs, particularly the Kenya Red Cross (KRC) and church charities. The government resettled some IDPs in land formerly belonging to the state in Rift Valley and Coast Provinces. There are no reliable figures for the number of IDPs assisted or resettled, but the KRC provided assistance of emergency shelter and to roughly 7,000 persons fleeing the Turbi massacre in Marsabit. In addition, victims of the November/December floods received shelter, food, and other assistance from the KRC.
Protection of Refugees
The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government had not established a legal system for providing protection to refugees. The government generally provided protection against refoulement, the return of persons to a country where they feared persecution. The government also voluntarily hosted approximately 240,000 refugees in cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and recognized UNHCR refugee status determinations. Unlike in the previous year, no refugees were deported. In July 2005 approximately 17,000 Somalis fled temporarily to El Wak in the northeast, escaping an outbreak of clan violence in Gedo, Somalia; no members of the group were granted refugee status. Most returned voluntarily to Somalia.
The government did not accept refugees for resettlement in the country. The government worked closely with the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugee resettlement to other countries. The government adheres to the 1951 convention; however, it does not offer any prospects of local integration.
The government also provided temporary protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees under the 1951 Convention and its 1967 protocol. UNHCR did not seek temporary protection for such individuals in 2006; however, there were some residual cases remaining from the Gatumba massacre survivors, who traveled on Burundi travel documents for medical and other--mostly resettlement--assistance.
The government required that all refugees reside and remain at designated UNHCR camps, most of which were located near the Somali and Sudanese borders, unless granted permission to live elsewhere in the country. Such permission was given primarily to attend higher education institutions, undergo medical treatment, or avoid security threats at the camps.
Security at refugee camps, which markedly improved due to increased police presence during the year, remained a problem, particularly at the Kakuma camp, where rape was among the most frequently reported crimes. Rapes occurred when women and girls left the camps to herd goats and collect water or firewood. Most rapes were perpetrated by other refugees and some by members of the local community. Security forces were also responsible for a small number of the rapes.
Security problems in refugee camps also resulted from persecution of Muslim converts to Christianity, community pressure regarding opposition to FGM, forced marriages particularly of young Sudanese girls, and family objections to out-of-clan marriage, which often resulted in the kidnapping of spouses and children. The UNHCR requested increased police presence in the identified troubled areas.
According to the UNHCR, the incidence of rape in two camps sheltering 240,000 Somali, Sudanese, and other refugees had declined from 94 in 2000 to 19 in 2004, a rate of .08 per thousand persons.At some camps, such as Dadaab, refugees formed committees to combat such abuse with some success, although women and children remained vulnerable to rape, abuse, and exploitation.
To further reduce incidences of sexual abuse in these camps, in 2005 15 relief agencies began implementing the provisions of a 2004 code of conduct for humanitarian workers in refugee programs. Incidentsof reported rapes and gender-based violence continued to decrease during the year.
Acts of violence, including banditry and shootings, occurred frequently near the camps, as well as elsewhere in the weapons-rich, resource-poor provinces where the camps were located. Refugees were mistreated and abused by citizens and by residents of other refugee camps because of ethnic and religious differences. Interclan violence occasionally erupted among rival Somali clans at the camps; Somali refugees who married non‑Muslims or openly espoused religions other than Islam were subject to abuse.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government through free and fair multiparty elections, and citizens exercised this right through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
Since independence in 1963, KANU had continuously controlled both the presidency and the parliament. The 2002 elections were the country's third multiparty elections for presidential, parliamentary, and civic seats. Five presidential candidates contested the elections, with the main contestants being KANU candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and NARC candidate Mwai Kibaki. NARC was a coalition of more than a dozen political parties, including former members of KANU, who formed a united front to contest the December general elections. Kibaki won 61.9 percent of the vote, and international observers determined the elections were peaceful, free, and fair.
In the 2002 elections, 210 members of the 222‑member parliament were elected, and 12 were appointed.
Five by‑elections were held on July 24. Observers concluded that the by‑elections were carried out methodically and transparently, without instances of violence or intimidation on election day. There were, however, credible reports that government officials misused state resources for partisan campaigning and that political party representatives on all sides attempted to bribe voters.
On March 21, parliament convened for the first time since President Kibaki suspended it in November 2005, citing his legal authority to do so. Parliament's suspension was followed by the December 2005 reconstitution of the cabinet, which excluded a number of former ministers who had opposed him during the legal referendum.
In June 2005 KANU filed a lawsuit alleging that the president violated the law by naming ministers without the parties' consent. The lawsuit was pending at year's end.
There were no developments in the 2005 and 2004 cases of criminal youth gangs who attacked political figures.
There were 15 women in the 222‑seat parliament and eight female ministers and assistant ministers in the 83‑member cabinet.
There were 189 members of the country's five largest ethnic groups in the 222‑seat parliament. There were 18 minority ministers and assistant ministers in the expanded December 2005 cabinet.
Government Corruption and Transparency
Incidents of government corruption and frequent press reports fueled a widespread public perception that large‑scale corruption at the highest levels of government and in parliament persisted and that little official action had been taken against the most corrupt.
In January John Githongo, the former permanent secretary for governance and ethics known as the anticorruption czar, released a report providing details of a massive corruption scandal, Anglo Leasing, which took place during the current administration. The Githongo report was followed by the February publication of a report on the Goldenberg scandal under the Moi government. Both reports implicated a number of former and current government officials, renewing public frustration that little progress had been made to improve the country's record on corruption. Although three sitting ministers resigned following their inclusion in the reports, the High Court subsequently declared one minister immune from prosecution due to protection from double jeopardy. Githongo abruptly resigned in February 2005 while on an official overseas trip. In December 2005 President Kibaki eliminated the position of permanent secretary for ethics and governance during restructuring of the cabinet.
The government created the KACC in 2003 and appointed a chairman and other staff in 2004. In March, 100 officers who had been suspended in December 2005 for taking bribes during a police recruitment program were reinstated. According to a media report, the police commissioner announced on March 15 that the matter had been dealt with internally.
In October 2005 the government enacted the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, which provides for a procurement oversight board. The board was not operational by year's end.
Despite laws and institutions intended to fight corruption, no ministers or assistant ministers were arrested or suspended from office by year's end. In February the KNCHR and TI published a report, "Living Large," that detailed instances of wasteful government expenditures, focusing on the purchase of luxury vehicles by officials in the current government. In response the finance minister announced in his annual budget speech that the government would adopt the report's recommendations and prohibit almost all private use of official vehicles. Top officials of ministries and parastatal organizations were required to surrender all official vehicles in excess of one. At year's end only a few vehicles had been turned in.
On July 7, KACC issued a report on public perception that noted that citizens believed graft was rampant and entrenched in government culture.
Although the law does not provide for it, access to government information, particularly through the Internet, improved during the year. The government spokesman's briefings were televised and updates to many government websites were prompt. A promised biographic database of all members of parliament, however, remained stalled.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Non-governmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. With the exception of the police, government officials were usually cooperative and responsive to the queries of these groups. However, there were some reports that government officials intimidated and threatened to disrupt NGO activities, and that less‑established NGOs (particularly those in rural areas) were subjected to interference from provincial administrators and security forces.
Approximately 15 domestic organizations actively advocated for human rights in the country; 14 were independent of the government. Several NGOs maintained comprehensive files on localhuman rights abuses. A number of attorneys represented the indigent and human rights advocates without compensation, although they could handle only a small percentage of those who needed assistance and were concentrated chiefly in Nairobi and other large cities. The government allowed human rights organizations to witness autopsies of persons who died in police custody.
The Institute for Education in Democracy and other NGOs monitored the July by-elections in cooperation with the Electoral Commission, the KNCHR, and diplomatic missions.
A number of human rights organizations, including the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), the MLU, and the KNCHR, produced both regular reports cataloguing the human rights situation in the country and special reports on pressing human rights problems.
In April and May 2005, several peaceful assemblies organized by the KHRC were violently disrupted in spite of the KHRC having informed the police in advance as required by the Public Order Act. Several staff members were arrested and charged with participating in unlawful assemblies. The cases were pending at year's end.
The KNCHR has the status of an appeals court and can issue summons, order the release of prisoners, and require compensation for human rights abuses. On September 6, the organization's first human rights tribunal ordered the government to pay journalist Peter Makori approximately $70,190 (5,053,671 shillings) for torture and illegal detention by the police in 2003.
During the year there were reports that the government intended to restrict the freedom of civil society and other watchdog organizations. In September the KNCHR came under investigation by the KACC for alleged financial irregularities. The KNCHR attributed the crackdown to the government's discomfort with the organization's watchdog role.In April media reported that a cabinet subcommittee recommended placing NGOs under closer supervision to safeguard the government's public image. The Nation reported in July that the finance minister proposed to bring three independent government commissions, including the KNCHR, under closer control to protect the public from "rogue organizations." In September 40 civil society organizations accused the government of using anticorruption mechanisms to silence critics.
On March 13, the government published the Parliamentary Human Rights Handbook to help members of parliament better fulfill their role as protectors of human rights. The Kenya Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists prepared the book.
Section 5 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person's "race, tribe, place of origin or residence, or other local connection, political opinions, color, or creed;" however, government authorities did not enforce effectively many of these provisions. There was also evidence that some government officials at least tolerated and in some instances instigated ethnic violence.
Although all forms of violence against women are prohibited, domestic violence against women was a serious and widespread problem. The penal code does not contain specific provisions against domestic violence, but treats it as an assault. Police generally would not investigate in cases of domestic violence, which they considered private family matters. The 2004 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey revealed that more than half of women had experienced domestic violence after the age of 15 years. Wife beating was prevalent and largely condoned by much of society. NGOs, including the Law Society of Kenya, provided free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence.
On July 14, President Kibaki signed into law the Sexual Offenses Act, which criminalized rape, defilement, child pornography and sex tourism, and sexual harassment; the law had not been implemented by year's end.
The new law maintained the existing penalty of up to life imprisonment for rape, although actual sentences usually were no longer than 10 years. The law established minimum sentences for both rape and defilement, with higher penalties for the latter. The rate of prosecution remained low because of cultural inhibitions against publicly discussing sex, a fear of retribution against victims, the disinclination of police to intervene in domestic disputes, and the unavailability of doctors who otherwise might provide the necessary evidence for conviction. Moreover, traditional culture permitted a husband to discipline his wife by physical means. Neither the new law nor previously existing laws specifically prohibit spousal rape.
According to police statistics, there were 2,736 rapes nationwide during the year compared with 2,867 reported in 2005.Available statistics underreported the problem, since social mores discouraged women from going outside their families or ethnic groups to report sexual abuse. Human rights groups estimated that over 16,000 rapes were perpetrated annually.
The law prohibits FGM, but is still practiced, particularly in rural areas. According to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), 32 percent of women had undergone FGM. In 2004 an international conference on FGM in Nairobi reported that of the country's 42 ethnic groups, only four (the Luo, Luhya, Teso, and Turkana, comprising 25 percent of the country's population) did not traditionally practice FGM. According to the NGO Maendeleo Ya Wanawake (Development of Women), the percentage of girls undergoing the procedure was 80 to 90 percent in some districts of the Eastern, Nyanza, and Rift Valley provinces. There were more public awareness and programs to stop the practice in which government officials often participated. For example, in December a Methodist and a Presbyterian church group conducted alternative ceremonies for 500 girls and boys.
FGM usually was performed at an early age. Some churches and NGOs provided shelter to girls who fled their homes to avoid the practice, but community elders frequently interfered with attempts to stop the practice.
A January media report noted that the frequency had dropped in one district to 54 percent compared to 93 percent in 1999 before awareness campaigns began targeting FGM. Despite anti-FGM programs, which increasingly focused on young men to convince them to marry women who had not undergone FGM, women and children who had not undergone FGM faced social stigma.
In December 2005there were a number of arrests of individuals accused of applying forced FGM. For example, four parents were arrested along with a man who performed FGM. In mid‑December 2005 a woman in Nyandarua District plead guilty in court for subjecting four girls to FGM. During the same month, the Kuria district commissioner called for police to arrest parents who forced their daughters to undergo the procedure. In April 2005 17 girls in Marakwet District fled to avoid FGM and were given shelter in Eldoret by the NGO Center for Human Rights and Democracy. In April 2005 police forcibly removed the girls from the shelter and returned them to their villages. According to a media report, 20 girls were still in hiding with the aid of a church in Marakwet District three years after they fled their homes to avoid FGM.
Government officials continued to attempt to stem FGM. In December, the provincial commissioner of the Rift Valley Province was quoted as having declared that any civil servant condoning or supporting FGM (such as nurses or local chiefs) would be fired. He added that the parents of girls subjected to the practice would be arrested.
In December 2005 rescuers hid 140 girls in a school in Meru North District and planned to engage them in an alternative rite ceremony, while another 330 completed a "no cut" initiation rite in Marakwet District.
In January a couple was arrested for compelling their 10-year-old daughter to undergo FGM in preparation for her marriage. There were no further developments by year's end.
The Nation reported on June 23 that a 15-year-old girl died after performing FGM on herself.
Various communities have instituted "no cut" initiation rites for girls as an alternative to FGM. According to The Family Planning Association of Kenya, its "no cut" program called Ntanira na Kithomo (Initiate Me through Education) contributed to a 13 percent decline in the prevalence of FGM in Meru North District through 2005.
Prostitution is illegal but was a problem perpetuated by poverty. On May 19, Minister of Tourism Morris Dzoro supervised a police raid of a hotel on the coast where child prostitution was allegedly taking place. In May 2005 Minister of Immigration Linah Kilimo accompanied a police raid on a nightclub where illegal immigrants were allegedly forced to work as prostitutes. A number of the illegal immigrants were subsequently repatriated. Despite the high profile of these incidents, they did not prompt specific government action against prostitution.
The law prohibits sexual harassment; however, sexual harassment in export processing zones (EPZs) was a problem (see section 6.e.).
The law provides equal rights to men and women and specifically prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender; however, women experienced a wide range of discriminatory practices, limiting their political and economic rights and relegating them to second‑class citizenship. For example, the law allows only males to transmit citizenship automatically to their wives and children.
Women continued to face both legal and de facto discrimination in other areas. According to UNICEF, gross and net enrolment in primary and secondary schools were balanced; however, a January government report indicated that in universities only 36.3 percent of students were women. Women constituted 70 percent of the country's illiterate population.
The Law of Succession, which governs inheritance rights, provides for equal consideration of male and female children but terminates the inheritance rights of widows if they remarry. Moreover a widow cannot be the sole administrator of her husband's estate unless she has her children's consent. The law also allows the Ministry of Justice to exempt certain communities from the law in deference to tradition, which provides for equal distribution of a man's property only among his sons.
Wife inheritance, in which a man inherits the widow of his brother or other close relative, was commonly practiced in certain communities. On January 15, the Nation reported that men felt it was their responsibility to marry HIV-positive widows to spare other men from being infected. Although poor and uneducated women were more likely to be inherited or suffer from property and inheritance discrimination, prominent and educated women sometimes were victims. Forced marriages were also common.
Women made up approximately 75 percent of the agricultural work force and were active in urban small businesses. Nonetheless the average monthly income of women was approximately two‑thirds that of men, and women held only 6 percent of land titles. Under traditional law women in many ethnic groups cannot own land. Women had difficulty moving into nontraditional fields, were promoted more slowly than men, and were more likely to be laid off than men. Societal discrimination was most apparent in rural areas.
The government was generally committed to the rights and welfare of children, and there was legislation and developed policies to promote education and protect children's rights; however, the government did not implement its policies fully.
According to the government's economic survey during the year, the government's Free Universal Primary Education Program raised primary school enrollment from 7.4 million in 2004 (approximately 81.1 percent of the primary school age group) to 7.6 million in 2005 (approximately 83.2 percent).
Most citizens welcomed tuition‑free education; however, the program also resulted in overcrowded classes due to insufficient teachers and an inadequate budget. To enhance access to free primary education, the government continued to support informal schools to cater particularly to children in urban slums. About 79.9 percent of enrolled children completed the eight‑year primary school education cycle in 2005 compared to 76.2 percent in 2004. Approximately 64 percent of primary school graduates went on to secondary school in 2005, up from less than 50 percent in 2004. The law mandates compulsory schooling for all children through grade 12, but in 2005 the enrolment in secondary school was only 29.3 percent. Although this enrolment rate represented an increase over the 2004 rate of 22.2 percent, UNICEF reported that secondary school continuing net attendance based on household surveys was approximately 11 percent.
Although the number of boys and girls in school was approximately equal at the primary level, boys substantially outnumbered girls in higher education. Rural families were more reluctant to invest in educating girls than in educating boys, particularly at the higher levels. According to Federation of Women Lawyers, 8,000 to 13,000 girls annually dropped out of school due to pregnancy.
Child rape and molestation continued to be serious problems. In 2004 the People Daily reported that 38 percent of children under 18 were sexually abused. Newspapers contained frequent reports of molestation or rape of children by teachers, police, clergy, and others. In July 2005 the Chamber of Justice and the NGOs Care Kenya and Cradle issued a report entitled The Defilement Index that indicated that incestuous defilement accounted for approximately 75 percent of abuse against young girls in urban areas. The report showed that six out of 10 persons working with abused children agreed that the most vulnerable girls were those in nursery to class four (one to 10 years old).
Legally, a person is not considered to have raped a girl younger than 14 if he had sexual intercourse with her against her will; instead, he commits the lesser offense of defilement. The unimplemented 2006 Sexual Offenses Act defined minimum sentences for both rape and defilement with harsher penalties for defilement.
On March 8, a court in Eldoret sentenced a man to seven years in prison with hard labor for raping a six-year-old girl. On June 12, a man was sentenced to life in prison for repeatedly raping his 13-year-old daughter in Kajiado District. In July a man who had been sentenced to 40 years in prison for raping a four‑year‑old girl was freed when the court decided that insufficient evidence had been provided during his trial. On August 10, a court in Kisii sentenced a man to 14 years in prison with hard labor for attempting to rape his mentally handicapped niece (age unknown) on February 19. On December 22, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for defiling a 10-year-old girl in Laikipia District.
Certain ethnic groups commonly practiced FGM on young girls, particularly in rural areas (see section 5, Women).
Newspapers frequently highlighted the problem of child marriages,which the public perceived to be a commonly practiced tradition among certain ethnic groups. According to UNICEF, 25 percent of young women had been married as children. The Marriage Act forbids marriage under the age of 16, but the Mohammedan Marriage and Divorce Act allows Muslim girls to marry at puberty.
On January 3, police arrested the parents and husband of a 12-year-old girl whose parents forced her to marry a 20-year-old man.
A January 27 report highlighted the case of a 15-year-old girl in Wajir who was chainedto a bed and starved for a week for refusing to marry a 50-year-old man. The girl escaped and went to police. Police arrested both the would-be husband and the girl's brother.
In early December police rescued a 15-year-old girl who escaped from a forced marriage to an older businessman on the coast. Police were investigating who arranged the marriage by year's end.
There were reports that infertile married women in the Kuria community sometimes used girls to bear children for the married couple. In February a 10-year-old girl who was thus "married" to a 50-year-old infertile woman escaped in Kuria District.
Trafficking in children was a problem (see section 5, Trafficking), as was child prostitution, although the new Sexual Offenses Bill outlaws both. The minimum sentence for child trafficking is 10 years in prison and a fine of approximately $27,400 (approximately two million shillings).
On August 14, the assistant education minister announced the government would build shelters around the country for sexually abused children.On June 15, the government's director of children's services announced that through a justice sector reform program, children's officers, probation officers, and provincial administrators had received training on children's rights. On the same day, the government reported that 80 more chief children's officers had been appointed to the Department of Children's Services.
Child prostitution increased considerably in recent years due to both poverty and the increase in the number of children orphaned because of the spread of HIV/AIDS. Strong growth in the tourism industry led to an increasingly severe problem of foreign and domestic tourists seeking sex with underage girls and boys (see section 6). According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), approximately 30,000 girls under the age of 19 years were engaged in prostitution in the country.
Approximately 1.9 million children were still engaged in child labor (see section 6). UNICEF reported that 26 percent of children were involved in child labor activities and that approximately 30 percent of girls from 12 to 18 years of age who were living in coastal cities studied were either part-time informal sex workers or were engaged in sex work as a full-time income generating activity.
Difficult economic conditions and the spread of HIV/AIDS continued to intensify the problem of homeless street children. During the year the children's rights NGO ANPPCANN estimated that approximately 750,000 children lived on the streets. Street children faced harassment as well as physical and sexual abuse from police and society, and within the juvenile justice system. For example, in January street children who had allegedly stabbed a bus driver were beaten by residents in Eldoret who argued that the children posed a security threat in the community.
The government provided programs to place street children in shelters and assisted NGOs in providing education, skills training, counseling, legal advice, and shelter for girls abused by their employers. By November 2005, 231 of 300 street children in the National Youth Service had graduated from vocational courses. The government's program to remove children from the street and provide them with education and vocational training continued. The government also provided shelter and medical care to street children exploited in the commercial sex industry.
Trafficking in Persons
The law does not explicitly prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, although the new Sexual Offenses Act criminalizes trafficking of children and trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation. There were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country. Laws prohibiting the forcible detention of women for the purposes of prostitution as well as child labor, the transportation of children for sale, and the commercial sexual exploitation of children can also be used to prosecute trafficking-related offenses.
The country was a source, transit, and destination country for trafficking in persons. Victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation through the country from South and East Asian countries and the Middle East en route to European destinations. Boys between the ages of 15 and 18 were also trafficked for labor to the Middle East. Women and girls were trafficked to the Middle East, other African nations, Western Europe, and North America for domestic servitude, manual labor, and forced work in massage parlors and brothels. Asian nationals, principally Indians, Bangladeshis, and Nepalese, were trafficked into the country and coerced into bonded labor in the construction and garment industries. There was a report of six Sri Lankan young men who were lured with promises of hotel jobs in Cyprus, but ended up in a remote part of western Nairobi. Police apprehended the trafficker but no formal charges had been filed.
In August two police officers based at the Endebess police station in Tranz-Nzoia were suspended from duty for allegedly helping a suspected member of a child trafficking syndicate escape from custody. The accused trafficker was arrested for attempting to traffic an allegedly abducted child from the country to Uganda. However, the officers were subsequently reinstated to active duty pending disciplinary action from police headquarters and were believed to have been reassigned.
Police reportedly also investigated trafficking cases in the coastal and Rift Valley regions; no further information regarding resulting arrests or prosecutions was made available. The government was unable to provide concrete statistics on trafficking-related investigations, arrests, and prosecutions during the past year.
Kenyan victims trafficked abroad were generally recruited through employment agencies under false pretenses. Domestic trafficking victims were often lured by friends and relatives who offered them promises of employment or access to education. Children from poor families were the most vulnerable, as their families were misled into believing that their child was gaining the opportunity for a better life.
The minimum term in prison for trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is 15 years' imprisonment, a fine of up to approximately $27,400 (1.918 million shillings), or both. However, fines were limited, and jail time was rarely enforced. There were no investigations into trafficking cases by December2006. The government was unable to provide concrete statistics on trafficking-related arrests and convictions during the past year because it does not track trafficking cases separately or specifically.
The police antitrafficking unit has primary responsibility for combating trafficking but was not effective. In December the Ministry of Home Affairs collaborated with the Office of the President and the ministries of labor, education, and tourism, to establish a National Steering Committee to address the problem with the support of the vice president. The ministries of labor, home affairs, and foreign affairs continued a program of trafficking education, awareness, and inspection for all 68 foreign employment agencies.
Although many observers believed some government officials were involved in trafficking in persons, no additional specific cases of corruption were identified during the year.
Government assistance to NGOs to combat human trafficking continued to be minimal. However, awareness among government departments grew during the year largely due to NGOs' successful efforts to study the issue, educate the media, and inform the public about the problem.
Persons with Disabilities
The 2004 Persons with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or in the provision of other state services, and the government effectively enforced its provisions during the year. Although implementation has been slow due to the ongoing process of harmonizing the Act with existing laws, the government has equipped some public buildings with wheelchair ramps, lifts, and sanitary facilities. Also, each region has been assigned a sign-language interpreter for court proceedings. The Ministry of Health is the lead ministry for responsible for seeing that the law is implemented and is working to harmonize the law with existing laws.
A January 3 Standard report highlighted the case of a visually impaired woman, educated through the masters' level, who had been unable to find a job teaching above the primary level because of her disability.
The Ministry of Health acknowledged societal bias against persons with disabilities. The law covers both physical and mental disabilities. The ministry worked in partnership with NGOs and faith-based organizations by providing staff for facilities. Persons with both physical and mental disabilities were treated in the same facilities.
The country's population was divided into more than 40 ethnic groups from three major sociolinguistic families. There were frequent allegations of discrimination and occasional violence among some of these groups. Unofficial results of the 1999 census indicated that the Bantu ethnic groups comprised about 67 percent of the population, which included the Kikuyu and closely related Embu and Meru at about 32 percent, the Kamba at about 10 percent, and the Luhya at about 16 percent. Nilotic ethnic groups comprised about 30 percent of the population, which included the Kalenjin at about 12 percent and the Luo at about 11 percent. Cushitic ethnic groups comprised about 3 percent of the population, including the Somalis at about 2 percent. The Kikuyu and related groups dominated much of private commerce and industry and often purchased land outside their home province, which sometimes resulted in fierce antagonism and resentment from other ethnic groups. The numerically small and shrinking South Asian community controlled a disproportionate share of the country's commerce.
In private business and in the public sector, members of virtually all ethnic groups commonly discriminated in favor of other members of the same group. Some neighborhoods, particularly in the slum areas of the capital, tended to be segregated ethnically, although interethnic marriage has become fairly common in urban areas. With the 2007 general election approaching, some political leaders made blatant appeals to traditional ethnic animosities and resentments for the purposes of political mobilization. In the run up to past elections, such appeals resulted in intimidation of voters from targeted ethnic groups and violent communal clashes.
Clashes occurred between various ethnic groups and clans. The ongoing conflict between two Cushitic ethnic groups inhabiting the far north continued, with each group accusing the other of maintaining militias and receiving armed support from their ethnic fellows across the border in Ethiopia to harass, intimidate, and kill the other. There were reports of several violent clashes during the year. The government reacted swiftly by sending a police force supported by the army to stop the attacks. It also arranged for public reconciliation meetings between elders of the two communities and involved local politicians in the endeavor.
Early in the year, communal violence around Likia in Rift Valley Province resulted in eight persons being killed and 10 injured. On February 23, the provincial commissioner suspended six police chiefs for failing to notify the government of the escalating tension in the area.
On September 20, four persons were killed and 12 injured in interethnic clashes near Nakuru. After approximately 500 persons fled their homes, the government assisted their return a week later.
Through the provincial administrations, the government held a number of public meetings in regions plagued by ethnic violence to promote dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflict. The government also dispatched regular police and a paramilitary force to patrol affected areas and prevent recurrence of violence. During the year, in Coast Province, the government distributed land titles to landless persons long engaged in challenging the legality of their dispossession to eliminate one source of interethnic conflict in that region.
In June ethnic violence erupted in the region of Western Province bordering Uganda and continued for the next six months. Competition over land exacerbated by rivalries among political leaders representing contending ethnic communities were at the root of the conflict. The government deployed security forces to the area to stop the violence.
Other notable conflicts included that between the Maasai and Kuria in southern Rift Valley province and between rival Kikuyu and Luo criminal gangs in a major slum in Nairobi. Both conflicts were quickly suppressed by government security forces.
Many factors contributed to interethnic conflicts, including the proliferation of guns, the commercialization of traditional cattle rustling, the growth of a modern warrior/bandit culture (distinct from the traditional culture), unresponsive political leadership at the local level, diminished economic prospects for groups affected by a severe regional drought, and the inability of security forces to adequately quell the violence. Land owner/squatter conflict was particularly severe in Rift Valley and Coast provinces, while competition for resources such as water and pasturage was particularly severe in the northern districts of Eastern Province and in North Eastern Province.
During the year members of coastal ethnic groups attempted to seize land they claimed had been given away unfairly decades before to individuals from outside the province in an alleged attempt to change the region's demography for political purposes. The government recognized that some illegal land deals had taken place in the past, but insisted that those seeking to challenge past land deals follow the rule of law through the courts and not simply squat on disputed land.
There were no developments in the 2004 petition to the High Court by members of the predominantly Muslim Nubian community, who claimed that the government discriminated against them by trying to eliminate their ethnic identity. At year's end, the High Court had not rendered a judgment on their petition for redress of grievances related to their rights as citizens.
Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination
There was societal discrimination against homosexuals and persons with HIV/AIDS. A lingering stigma toward persons with HIV/AIDS made it difficult for many families to admit that their members were HIV-positive.
There were occasional reports of violence against persons with HIV/AIDS. For example, on April 15, a 15-year-old boy was killed by his uncle, allegedly because of his HIV status. The uncle was still at large at year's end.An April 26 media report noted that military members with HIV/AIDS were ostracized by their colleagues.
The Department of Defense provided for uniformed personnel and their families and some members of the community to have access to HIV counseling and testing, prevention programming, and antiretroviral treatment.
The government worked in cooperation with international donors on programs of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The law provides that all workers, including those in the EPZs, are free to join unions of their choice, and workers exercised this right. Workers numbering seven or more in an enterprise have the right to form a union by registering with the Trade Union Registrar. If the Registrar denies registration, the union may appeal to the courts. The Police Act prohibits members of the national police force from joining unions. Some unions complained that employers resisted efforts to establish unions in factories in which at least 80 percent of workers indicated a desire for union membership and representation. Unlike in the previous year, unions did not report difficulty registering with the registrar of unions or the Ministry of Labor. The armed forces, police, prisons service, and the administration police force are specifically not covered by the Employment Act.
There were 42 unions representing approximately 600,000 workers, approximately one‑third of the country's formal‑sector work force. All but five of these unions, representing approximately 300,000 workers, were affiliated with the one approved national federation, the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU). The two largest non‑COTU unions were the 240,000-member Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Union of Kenya Civil Servants, with approximately 60,000 registered members.
There were no human rights abuses of union leaders reported by the government.
The law prohibits employers from intimidating workers; however, some antiunion discrimination still existed, specifically in the EPZs in Mombasa. Employees wrongfully dismissed for union activities were able to take their cases to the industrial court, a body of up to five judges appointed by the president, and many were awarded damages in the form of back pay. Union leaders reported that the industrial court still ordered reinstatement, but employers often did not comply, and workers often accepted payment in lieu of reinstatement. Reinstatement was not a common remedy; more often aggrieved workers found alternative employment in the lengthy period prior to the hearing of their cases. The government voiced its support for union freedom but did not protect it fully.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
While not having the force of law, the Industrial Relations Charter (IRC), executed by the government, COTU, and the Federation of Kenya Employers, gives workers the right to engage in legitimate trade union organizational activities, and the government protected these rights in practice. Both the Trade Disputes Act and the IRC authorize collective bargaining between unions and employers, and wages and conditions of employment were established in negotiations between unions and management. The government permits wage increases of up to 100 percent and renegotiation of collective agreements; however, the law allows employers in ailing industries to dismiss workers regardless of the provisions of their collective bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining agreements must be registered with the industrial court to ensure adherence to these guidelines. The security forces cannot bargain collectively but have an internal board which reviews salaries. Other groups that cannot bargain collectively, such as the health sector workers, have associations, not unions, which negotiate their wages and conditions that match the government's minimum wage guidelines, although these agreements were not legally enforceable.
The law, with some restrictions, permits workers to strike, and workers exercised this right in practice. Workers must submit a letter to the Ministry of Labor and Human Resource Development and wait 21 days before a strike can occur. Members of the military services, police, prison guards, and the National Youth Service are prohibited from striking. Other civil servants can strike following the 21‑day notice period (28 days for essential service workers, such as water, health, education, or air traffic control workers). During this interim period, the minister may mediate the dispute, nominate an arbitrator, or refer the matter to the industrial court for binding arbitration. Once a dispute is referred for mediation, fact‑finding, or arbitration, any subsequent strike is illegal.
The government resumed deducting and remitting member dues to the Civil Servants Union (CVU) after the CVU held a special election in December 2005 for the Board of Directors. The registrar-general had ordered the election after the union's June 2005 strike. During the year some public employees threatened to strike over wage issues. Government agencies threatened to fire strikers and replace them, but discussions continued, and agreements were reached in most cases.
Although the law prohibits retaliation against strikers, employers have fired strikers without redress. The University Academic Staff Union officials were contesting the dismissal of union officials participating in a strike demanding better salaries. The law prohibits employers working in sectors such as water and sewerage, health, and law enforcement to go on strike.
With the exception of the Factories Act, all labor laws apply in the EPZs (see section 6.e.); however, the EPZ Authority and the government granted many exemptions to applicable laws. For example, the government waived a provision of the law that prevents women from working in industrial activities at night. There were reports that persons lost their jobs in EPZs because of their refusal to work on Saturdays. Union leaders claimed that a number of textile and garment firms in EPZs employing about 3,000 workers have refused to sign collective bargaining agreements. Seven garment producers in the Athi River EPZ near Nairobi signed collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) in 2003, but negotiations on the next CBA have dragged out and no agreement on a new CBA had been reached by year's end. Two garment producers in Mombasa have recognized the textile union, but have not completed CBA negotiations. Union leaders claimed that a number of other garment producers in EPZs have refused to recognize the Tailors and Textiles Workers Union and resisted efforts to unionize their workers.
On May 1, the government ordered a crackdown on firms employing casual workers over an extended period of time without changing their terms of employment to regular status. The Ministry of Labor and Human Resource Development also stated it would close down those businesses whose workers were denied the right to join trade unions. Under the Employment Act, no employer is allowed to employ a casual worker longer than three months. However, employers normally relieved casual employees after two months and rehired them to circumvent the law. No action was taken by the ministry during the year against employers that engaged in such practices.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits slavery, servitude, and forced and bonded labor, including by children; however, there were reports that such practices occurred (see section 5). Under the Chiefs' Authority Act, a local authority can require persons to perform community services in an emergency; there was no attempt to use the law during the year.
There were reports of forced or compulsory labor by children (see section 6.d.).
d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for
The 2001 Children's Act prohibits all forms of child labor that are exploitative or hazardous, or would prevent children under age 16 from attending school; however, child labor was a problem, particularly in the informal sector. An estimated 1.9 million children between the five and 17 years of age were working, with the majority being between 13 and 17 years of age. While children under 16 years of age are prohibited from working and the employment of children in the industrial sector is illegal, the law does not apply the minimum age restriction to the agricultural sector, where approximately 70 percent of the labor force was employed. The minimum age law also does not apply to children serving as apprentices under the terms of the Industrial Training Act.
The Ministry of Labor and Human Resources Development officers nominally enforced the minimum age statute, and the government worked closely with COTU and the ILO's International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor to eliminate child labor. By 2005 the government's Free Universal Primary Education Program resulted in the return to school of more than 1.5 million children who had been working. Termination of school fees made primary school affordable for many more families, but the continuing expenses of uniforms, textbooks, and exam fees kept primary education out of reach for the poorest families and some orphans.
Children worked primarily in the informal sector, mostly in family businesses and on family plots where they assisted their parents. A significant number of children worked in family units on tea, coffee, sugar, and rice plantations. Children also worked in mining, small quarries, and abandoned gold mines. Children often worked as domestic servants in private homes, and during the year there were reports of abuse of children serving as domestic employees. Poverty and the growing number of HIV/AIDS orphans led to an increase in child labor in the informal sector, which was difficult to monitor and control. In addition a large number of children were exploited in the sex industry (see section 5). The employment of children in the formal industrial wage sector in violation of the Employment Act was less common.
The law establishes definitions of child labor, and the worst forms of child labor can be prosecuted under the Children's Act, which prohibits child sexual exploitation, and the Penal Code, which prohibits procurement of a girl under 21 for the purpose of unlawful sexual relations and criminalizes child commercial sexual exploitation, child labor, and the transportation of children for sale (see section 5).
In June 2004 the government prepared a National Plan of Action to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor. A practical guide to labor inspection was developed, and the government trained labor inspectors and occupational health and safety officers to report on child labor. In February the government renewed the three-year mandate for the National Steering Committee on the Elimination of Child Labor. Members include the attorney general, eight ministries, representatives of children welfare organizations, and non-governmental organizations, unions and employers. An Interministerial Coordination Committee on Child Labor, chaired by the vice president, was responsible for setting general policy. The country's National Policy on Child Labor aims at strengthening the framework for coordination, monitoring and initiating realistic strategies for preventing, protecting, rehabilitating and reintegrating children from child labor, particularly in its worst forms, and providing access to alternative forms of education and skills training for sustainable livelihoods. The National Steering Committee met with stakeholders to review the updated policy and discuss the National Plan of Action in September, and the Interministerial Coordinating Committee is reviewing the recommendations from the Steering Committee.
On July 28, Vice President Awori presided at the launching of a national campaign to stop violence against children and address child labor and trafficking issues. The campaign is supported by UNICEF and NGOs, and caravans visited five locations this year to hold events to raise local awareness of child protection issues.
Many NGOs also were active in child labor issues and assisted in the return to school of child laborers. In the past several years, the government has implemented 73 programs on the elimination of child labor with 25 partner agencies. These programs removed 50,000 children, half of them girls, from child labor. The partners placed the children in schools, vocational training institutions and apprenticeships, and supported income‑generating activities for 10,000 parents. Partners also provided support to schools to initiate income‑generating activities to help keep children from poor families in school.
UNICEF, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, the World Tourism Organization, and the NGOs End Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) continued to work with hotels and tour operators to increase their awareness of child prostitution and sex tourism. ECPAT also worked with the other groups to develop a code of conduct. Beginning in 2005 the Ministry of Tourism mounted a campaign to register villas and cottages, putting them under the same strictures and requirements as hotels, and encouraging them to participate in the ECPAT code of conduct. In February 30 hotels on the Coast signed the ECPAT Code of Conduct. By August about 1,200 were registered. The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and the Kenya Association of Hoteliers and Caterers intend to see all hotel operators and other tourism and hospitality firms sign and implement the code, but there were no further signups during the year. The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has made implementation of the code a condition for annual licensing of hotels, lodges and restaurants by the Hotel and Restaurant Authority.
The vice president and minister of home affairs publicly accepted the UNICEF report on child sex tourism, urged wider hospitality industry participation in the ECPAT code, and pledged the government would work with UNICEF to develop long-term strategies for child protection and social/behavioral changes. The government increased the budget, permitting the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Child Protection Department to hire an additional 160 children's officers.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The legal minimum wage for blue‑collar workers in the wage sector has 12 separate scales, varying by location, age, and skill level. In many industries, the legal minimum wage equaled the maximum wage. In May 2005 the government increased the legalminimum wages for workers by 12 percent in both urban and rural areas: the lowest minimum wage in large urban areas was approximately $72.70 (5,346 shillings) per month. The minimum wage did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Most workers relied on second jobs, subsistence farming, informal sector opportunities, or the extended family for additional support.
Workers covered by a CBA generally received a better wage and benefit package than other workers. For instance the average covered worker received $100 (8,170 shillings) per month in addition to a housing and transport allowance, which often constituted 25 to 50 percent of a worker's compensation package.
The law limits the normal workweek to 52 hours, although employees who work at night may work up to 60 hours per week. Some categories of workers had lower maximum limits on workweek hours. As is the case with respect to minimum wage limitations, the law specifically excludes agricultural workers. An employee in the nonagricultural sector is entitled to one rest day per week and there are provisions for 21 days of annual leave and sick leave. The law also provides that the total hours worked (regular time plus overtime) in any two‑week period not exceed 120 hours (144 hours for night workers). The Ministry of Labor and Human Resources Development was responsible for enforcing these regulations; however, violations were reported during the year. Workers in some enterprises, particularly in the EPZs and road construction, claimed that employers forced them to work extra hours without overtime pay to meet production targets. In addition, the employers often did not provide nighttime transport, leaving workers vulnerable to assault and robbery, including sexual harassment.
Although the law sets forth detailed environmental, health, and safety standards, the government did not enforce the law. Fines generally were too low to serve as a deterrent to unsafe practices. EPZs are excluded from these legal provisions (see section 6.b.). The Ministry of Labor's Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety Services (DOHSS) has the authority to inspect factories and work sites, but lacked statutory authority to inspect factories in the EPZs. DOHSS had only 52 inspectors instead of the 168 expected to cover the entire country. During the year DOHSS carried out some inspection visits although no action was taken after the inspections nor did it provide information on the findings. Labor unions and NGOs continued to criticize health and safety conditions in the EPZs and other sectors, such as small horticulture producers.
DOHSS developed a program in which factories with more than 20 employees establish internal safety committees that are trained to conduct safety audits and submit compliance reports to DOHSS. DOHSS claimed that in 2005it organized the training of 2,393 workers in occupational safety and health services in various companies in the formal sector.
DOHSS health and safety inspectors can issue notices against employers for practices or activities that involved a risk of serious personal injury. Such notices can be appealed to the factories appeals court, a body of four members, one of whom must be a High Court judge. The law stipulates that factories employing at least 20 persons have a health and safety committee with representation from workers; however, according to the government, fewer than half of the very largest factories had instituted health and safety committees. Workers, including foreign or migrants, can refuse to remain in hazardous conditions, but many were reluctant to risk losing their jobs.