CHAIRMAN: Prof. Isaac Nguema
VICE CHAIRMAN: Prof. Emmanuel V.O. Dankwa
COMMISSIONERS: Mr. Robert H. Kisanga, Dr. Mohamed H. Ben Salem
Dr. Vera V. Duarte Martins, Prof. U. Oji Umozurike, Mr. Atsu Koffi
Amega, Mr. Kamel Rezzag-Bara, Mrs. Julienne Ondziel-Gnelenga
||Kenya Human Rights Commission v.
Kenya, Comm. 135/94, 9th ACHPR AAR Annex VIII (1995-1996)
||IHRDA, Compilation of Decisions on
Communications of the African Commission On Human and Peoples’
Rights Extracted from the Commission’s Activity Reports 1994-2001,
at 142 (2002); Documents of the African Commission on Human and
Peoples’ Rights, at 455 (Malcolm D. Evans & Rachel Murray eds.,
2001); (2000) AHRLR 133 (ACHPR 1995)
1. The university academic staff from the four public universities in Kenya
(University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Moi University and Egerton
University) met and resolved to form an Umbrella Trade Union to represent
their interests in negotiations with their respective employers. They
decided to call their union, the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU).
2. On 25 May 1992, they submitted an application for registration to the
Registrar of Trade Unions. The Registrar acknowledged the receipt of the
application documents the same day. However, there was no further replies
from either the Registrar General, or the Attorney General.
3. In June 1993, the UASU interim officials wrote to the Attorney General
seeking audience with him to discuss UASU’s registration. The Attorney
General did not reply to this letter.
4. Due to the lack of response, the UASU decided in November 1993 to go on
strike 29 November 1993. The notice of the intended strike was issued to the
Attorney General, the Registrar and the Vice-Chancellors of the public
universities. A copy of notice was also delivered to Kenya’s President
Daniel Moi, who is also the Chancellor of all the public universities.
5. On 24 November 1993 the Registrar refused to register UASU on the grounds
that “the union is used for unlawful purposes and as such peace, welfare and
good order in Kenya would otherwise be likely to suffer prejudice...”
6. The strike began on 29 November 1993 and court proceedings initiated on
23 December 1993, challenging the Registrar’s decision to reject their
application for registration as a trade union.
7. On 27 December 1993, during the swearing-in of two newly appointed judges
of the High Court of Kenya President Moi, who is also the Chancellor of the
public universities, stated that the government would never register UASU
despite the fact that the matter was already in court. He reiterated the
government’s position on 31 December in a public statement. He again
repeated that the government would not allow the registration of UASU on 25
February 1994 and further stated that the government would take stern action
against the leaders of the UASU.
8. Justice A.B. Shah, one of the new judges sworn in on 27 December 1993,
and who was previously the President’s lawyer, heard an application filed by
University of Nairobi UASU chapter officials seeking to restrain eviction
from their university housing until the cases against the Registrar
challenging the rejection of registration, and their purported dismissal
from the university were fully determined. Justice A.B. Shah rejected the
9. All the national officials of UASU have been arrested and harassed since
the strike begun in November 1993. On 10 December 1993, the national interim
officials were arrested while proceeding to Egerton University for a
meeting. No charges were pressed and the officials were released the
following day. Dr Korwa Adar was again arrested on 25 February 1994 from his
house after the President warned that action will be taken against UASU
leaders. Dr. Adar was charged with inciting students and colleagues to
PROCEDURE BEFORE THE COMMISSION
10. The communication is dated 8 March 1994 and was received by the
Commission on 2 May 1994.
11. The Commission was seized of the communication at its 16th Session in
October 1994 and it was decided that the Government of Kenya should be
notified of the complaint against it for comments.
12. On 10 January 1995, a letter was sent to the complainant asking what had
been the outcome of the court case respecting the refusal of the Government
to register the union in question. On the same date a notification was sent
to the Government informing it of the seizure of the communication during
the 16th Session and that the admissibility of the communication would be
considered at the 17th Session.
13. At the 17th Session the 3 month period given to the Government of Kenya
to respond to the communication had not yet elapsed. The case was therefore
deferred to the 18th Session.
14. On the 20 April 1995, letters were sent to both the complainant and the
Government of Kenya, stating that the case would be considered at the 18th
Session and requesting the Government of Kenya’s response to the
communication and information from the complainant on the pending court
15. Article 56 of the African Charter reads:
“Communications ... shall be considered if they...
(5) Are sent after exhausting local remedies, if any, unless it is obvious
that this procedure is unduly prolonged...”
16. The most recent information the Commission has, provided by the
complainants themselves, states that the communication is still pending
before the courts of Kenya. The complainant has therefore not exhausted all
available local remedies.
FOR THE ABOVE REASONS, THE COMMISSION declares the communication
inadmissible without making any judgements as to the merits.
Taken at the 18th Session, Praia, Cape Verde, October, 1995.