United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights' statement at the end of mission to Kenya

Author: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights , Published on: 16 July 2018

"Statement at the end of visit to Kenya by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights"

In our capacity as members of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, we have today ended our ten-day visit to Kenya. We thank the Government for its facilitation of this visit, and the many people from civil society and the business community with whom we engaged in an open and frank dialogue on current initiatives, opportunities and challenges to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)...

Kenya is in the process of developing a National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights, and is set to become the first country on the African continent to develop such plan, following the example of growing number of countries across other world regions. We hope that the visit of the Working Group will assist in identifying priority actions for the NAP...The Kenyan economy draws heavily on state-owned enterprises and parastatals. Such entities are expected to lead by example in ensuring respect for human right.1 In the meetings and discussions touching on state-owned enterprises, it was not evident to us that these enterprises have the necessary awareness or processes to deliver on their responsibilities to respect human rights...

In our meetings with different stakeholders across the country we found a number of recurrent themes concerning gaps and shortcomings in current practices...Another recurring challenge we witnessed relates to the current system of environmental impact assessments to prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts. Environmental disasters such as the dam breach in Solai and lead contamination in Owino Uhuro underscore the need for more solid environment impact assessments and the serious human and environmental cost of inadequate human rights due diligence...Low minimum legal wage exacerbates poverty and we noted the marked disparity between minimum wage levels, with the minimum wage of agricultural workers set at half that of general laborers. The Working Group welcomes the decision of the Government to increase the minimum wage in 2018, but is concerned that it remains insufficient to ensure a decent living. The Working Group heard from business enterprises, CSO and workers that the minimum wage was hardly met, including in the supply chain of the public sector. 

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