While Kenya maintains the appearance of a country where the public space is open, specific categories of human rights defenders encounter a wide range of risks as a result of their work. These include human rights defenders and journalists working on highly sensitive corruption issues, those who document or contribute testimony on past violence (including the 2007/2008 post election violence and frequent extra-judicial killings by the police) as well as those using peaceful demonstrations as an advocacy tool.
Human rights defenders denouncing human rights violations committed by the police forces have continuously faced reprisals. Members of civil society organisations have been repeatedly arrested and subjected to ill-treatment while in detention, received threatening anonymous calls and some have undergone trials under accusations of “belonging to an illegal organisation” and “participation in an illegal protest.”
Human rights defenders working with sexual minorities’ rights have become victims of instigations by politicians and religious leaders. There have been incidents of community violence following anti-gay statements delivered by religious leaders and requests of closure of organisations working on research and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Prominent HRDs vocal on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights have faced stigmatisation and smear campaigns, which resulted in increasing difficulties in their day-to-day life.