UN specialists urge state, business sector to uphold human rights

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UN working group on business and human rights member Michael Addo (centre) said the government must now walk the talk with a solid legal framework in place
UN working group on business and human rights member Michael Addo (centre) said the government must now walk the talk with a solid legal framework in place

The United Nations (UN) Working Group on business and human rights has urged authorities in Kenya to turn ideals set out in the constitution into action that ensure businesses respect human rights. The chairperson of the working group Anita Ramasastry said Kenya has a solid legal framework for action, and the government must enact it and put it to practice. A member of the working group, Micheal Addo, cited the minimum wage law case, among the things that highlight Kenya’s fantastic structure but failure to fully enact it. He said they were appaled to hear about the hard working conditions of plantation workers, often paid below minimum wage and the damage caused by the dam breach in Solai, Nakuru.

Addo said the government should lead by example so that all public institutions involved in commercial activities should have human rights embedded in them. With devolution broadly highlighted in the media and in many avenues countrywide, he noted there isn’t sufficient coordination between the national and County governments, adding that there should also be a clear partnership between the government and private sector to protect human rights.

The chairperson of the UN working group Anita Ramasastry said the commitment of the government to develop a National Action plan, “We welcome the commitment of the government to develop a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights to address gaps and shortcomings in current practice, and we hope that our preliminary observations will help this process,” she said.