The Protection of Human Dignity and Enforcement of Economic and Social Rights Bill (the Human Dignity Bill) has been published and the 90 day window that would allow for rigorous public debate has commenced. The Dignity Bill seeks to entrench the provisions of Article 43 and address the overall question of Inequality and Social Justice in Kenya.
The Constitution of Kenya contains a progressive Bill of Rights and enshrines a number of Rights in Article 43. Similarly, the Constitution provides for devolved governance units (the 47 Counties) which are expected to deliver certain services as contained in the 4th Schedule of the Constitutions and various pieces of legislation on Devolution.
However, there is no law that compels the Government to deliberately work towards realisation of these Rights. This is what the Bill seeks to put in place. With the scarcity of Economic and Social Rights, they have become more of political goodies and exceptions to the norm. The Bill seeks to reverse this culture of political patronage in the realization of Economic and Social Rights.
Undeniably, Kenya must address the inequality question as a matter of urgency and practical steps must be taken by all levels of government. The conversation must therefore be able to generate and drive the demand and bear sufficient impact on duty bearers to focus on the question of inequality, social justice and dignity to all of the people of Kenya. Even if it does not become law, the debate around the bill must be vigorous enough to trigger further justiciability of Economic and Social rights in Kenya.