KULA ROBA WAKO: On Human Rights

Kindly introduce yourself to us

I am Kula Roba Wako. I am an advocate. I have worked in both corporate and civil society. I was recently at Directline Assurance company, and HAKI Africa. I have since joined International Center for Reproductive Health.

Why did you choose a career in human rights law?

I was raised in Huruma and grew up seeing injustices that is what motivated me to be an advocate and speak for the voiceless.

What are human rights?

Human rights are the inherent rights that every person has for the virtue of being human. These rights are unalienable. The most important thing is to understand your rights as a human being and to understand that these rights are inherent and inalienable.

These rights are provided for under Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Kenya and it is basically the same rights that are provided for under Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted in 1948 and Kenya has signed the treaty.

Human rights, the most basic include: Right to life, Equality and freedom from discrimination, Human dignity, Freedom and security of a person, Freedom from slavery and forced labour, Freedom of expression, Access to information, right to peaceful demonstration, Access to justice

For children, they include; Right to free and compulsory basic education, Right to shelter and health care, To be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices.

Why is it important for the people to learn about their rights?

This is because one ought to protect their rights and not to let anyone infringe these rights and also so that you respect the rights of the people around you.

In the wake of what is happening in our country; the brutal murders to be precise. Why is there an increase in such? Can we say that people no longer fear the purnishment for violating other people’s human rights?

It’s one thing to have these rights all pretty on paper and it’s another thing to have them respected and enforced. Ignorance is not a defence, hence there is need sensitize the people about their rights and duties. People concentrate on their rights than their duties to respect the rights of other people around them. People don’t value life that explains the killings.

Also the people who need to uphold and enforce these rights are sleeping on the job, these include our police. Corruption also contributes to all this, in that those who have money can get away with the crime.

Which is the most abused right or among the rights which one is least respected?

Almost all are being violated, it’s only that people don’t understand their rights. We have marginalized population lacking the basic needs like clean water but they will not know that. People only say their rights are violated for the rights they know.

Children’s rights are violated, by a father merely not providing for their children. When children are defiled which is on the rise. Children are violated by the same people who should protect their rights e.g parents, relatives, teachers and in other areas by police.

Now, in case my rights are violated as a person, what steps should I take? And what are the remedies?

When your rights are violated, you first report to the police, after which you find NGOs that deal with human rights like HAKI Africa, MUHURI, FIDA, KNCHR etc.These organizations help with pushing for the remedies.

You have mentioned that citizens don’t know some of their rights. Who is to blame?

The government, because the only reason the citizens don’t know their rights it’s because they never got the basic education. The government and local leaders need to sensitize the community.

We, the elites, are also at fault. Do we sensitize our community on their rights, because we need to give back to the community? The citizens are also at fault, why don’t they request or demand to be given the civic education?

Gender Based Violence, Gender Based discrimination, plight of women, rights of a girl child and related terms. What pains you on these areas? Are there hopes for change?

Gender based violence is not only against women but against both men and women. Women’s rights have been violated since our fore fathers. Girl child is not given the same opportunities as boy child. Why?

  • When both the boy and girl get home, the girl’s place is in the kitchen helping with chores while boys go play or do their homework
  • Girls are married off at an early age because of poverty because they are seen as a source of income, this is practiced to date in marginalized community.
  • Not every girl child can afford pads, this in turn, makes the girl child miss school for 3 or more days. The government can provide free condoms but not sanitary towel.
  • Women are seen as objects or people’s property that’s why there has been a rise in femicide.

Freedom of expression, where does it begin and end? Are there laws that monitor our freedom of expression, other than the usual hate speech cliche?

As long as it doesn’t violate another’s rights. We have defamation, we can sue under civil law. We have the constitution protecting our dignity also, so there are other laws.

When it comes to Human Rights and your experience in the field, what are the needs? What should someone do or initiate to satisfy the need? Is there an opportunity to explore? What should we do, as someone who wants to do something in the area?

Different areas have different needs. The best thing is to identify the challenges facing your area and see how you can address it in your small way through awareness creation or initiating change.

So, Mdm Roba, what is your parting shot?

For those of us who know their rights let’s educate the people we can reach. Let’s defend our rights at all cost. Defend and respect the rights of people around you.

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