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UN rights experts urge Kenya to cease crackdowns on rights groups

[JURIST] A group of UN human rights experts urged Kenya on Tuesday to stop crackdowns on human rights groups to protect the integrity of the August elections. The experts warned the crackdown on the rights groups could delegitimize the election process and possibly trigger another uprising [JURIST report]. According to the UN experts, the country has begun to intervene in the work of NGOs and rights organizations by accusing the groups of being unlicensed and engaging in illegal activities such as money laundering and supporting terrorism:

It appears that there is a systematic and deliberate pattern to crack down on civil society groups which challenge governmental policies, educate voters, investigate human rights abuses and uncover corruption. These issues are extremely important in a democracy, and attempting to shut down the debate taking place in the civic space threatens to irreparably taint the legitimacy of the upcoming elections.
The government has also reportedly cracked down on the groups to limit foreign interference in the election process.

Ahead of the election, Kenya is confronting multiple issues. A judge in Kenya recently sentenced [JURIST report] the leaders of the doctors' union to one month in prison over an ongoing strike. The High Court of Kenya ruled [JURIST report] last week that a government order to close the world's largest refugee camp is unconstitutional. The UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) last Thursday ruled [JURIST report] that it had the authority to adjudicate a dispute over a stretch of water in the Indian Ocean that is potentially laden with oil and gas. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a controversial law [JURIST report ] in January that may impact the August election by enabling a paper recount of votes in the event that the electronic systems fail.

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