KNCHR calls on government to find amicable solution to doctors’ strike

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has expressed concern that the ongoing doctors’ strike has had and will continue to have direct impact on the provision of healthcare
in Kenya.

In a statement undersigned by Chairperson Roseline Odede, KNCHR holds that the State bears the primary responsibility of ensuring that Kenyans enjoy their rights (including the right to healthcare) as provided for under the Constitution and international human rights instruments that Kenya has ratified.

The KNCHR noted that Article 41 of the Constitution clearly guarantees every worker the right to fair remuneration, reasonable working conditions, to join, form or participate in the activities of a trade union and to go on strike.

The Commission further noted that the
strike has been on-going for a while and both parties need to have genuine discussions on a return-to-work formula for ordinary provision of healthcare services to resume.

According to KNCHR, the ongoing strike has led to disruption of provision of health services across all the public facilities in the Country.

“The effect of this disruption on the
life of ordinary Kenyans has been major with reported cases of death and increased medical expenses when seeking health services from private facilities among others,” reads part of the statement.

The KNCHR observes that the demonstrations have been largely peaceful save for the appalling act of violence and use of unnecessary and excessive force perpetrated against
members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) during their peaceful demonstration on 28th February 2024 in Nairobi during which the KMPDU
Secretary General Dr. Davji Atellah, was gravely injured by a teargas canister fired by the police.

The KNCHR’s attention has been drawn to a Press Statement issued by the Inspector General of Police on 14th April 2024 indicating that non medics are intent on joining the strike and instructing the police to firmly and decisively deal in the interests of national security.

The KNCHR maintains that national security shall be pursued with utmost
respect for the rule of law and human rights as provided for in Article 238 (d) of the Constitution of Kenya Article 37 of the Constitution unequivocally guarantees the right of every person
peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities.

“It is the duty of the state to secure the rights of both the protestors,” the Commission stated.

Further, the KNCHR, in collaboration with the National Police Service and other actors have developed a checklist for the law enforcement agencies &
the public on the right to freedom and peaceful assembly which should be the guiding document when dealing with public assemblies.

The KNCHR has called for:
1. Genuine consultations between the Government and the Medical practitioners with a view to urgently resolve the outstanding issues and agree on a return to work formula.
2. Immediate cessation of threats and intimidation against any lawful exercise and enjoyment of the right to picket, demonstrate and protest
3. Provision of adequate security to the protestors and non-protestors during any
pickets, demonstrations and/or protests;

The KNCHR has maintained that it remains committed to helping the government in the fulfillment of its human rights obligations including facilitating a dialogue with the striking medical practitioners.

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