Basic Human rights from a business perspective
Most of us do understand the meaning of Humans Rights, and probably to some extent understand how to pursue recompense when our basic human rights have been violated. But this understanding is limited, as we do understand it that human rights can can only be violated by the Stage or State Organs. How about your Basic Human Rights from a Business perspective?
Your Humans Rights from a Business
Article 20 (1) of the Kenyan Constitution states that ‘the Bill of Rights applies to all and binds all State organs and persons; further in Article 260 it defines ‘person’ as including ‘a company, association or other body of persons whether incorporated or unincorporated’.
Businesses (companies) are therefore expected to honor your humans rights. Rights such as being treated with dignity, respect, and right are not up for negotiation. Businesses are not only expected to serve you with the value promised, but are also required to value you as a person. Most importantly, businesses have a duty to guarantee your right to privacy and uphold data protection laws.
To ensure businesses across the globe uphold human rights, The UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in 2011. Since then, the international community has urged countries to adopt NAPs to promote the implementation of business and human rights frameworks.
One key take- away in the UN guiding principles is that, “States must protect against human rights abuse within their territory and/or jurisdiction by third parties, including business enterprises. This requires taking appropriate steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress such abuse through effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication.”
The National Action Plan on Business and human Rights is the document that ensures this is followed. This policy document outlines expectations for companies to respect human rights wherever they operate.
What are some of the benefits of NAPs?
States have the primary obligation to promote, secure fulfilment of, respect, ensure respect of and protect human rights business.
They need to ensure enterprises uphold the rule of law and respect the human rights recognized in international law as well as the national law of the countries within which businesses operate and which are within the limits of their operations and spheres of influence.
The development of a NAP presents a government with the opportunity to review the extent of its implementation of business and human rights frameworks, including the UNGPs, at the national level and then to identify gaps and reforms to increase coherence with the government’s human rights commitments across business-related legal and policy frameworks and programs.
National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights in Kenya
The Kenyan National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) process was formally launched by the Attorney General on February 9, 2016.
On the 24 July 2019, the Attorney General published a NAP draft. This still needs to be approved by the Attorney General, after which he will table it for cabinet approval. If approved by the cabinet, it will pass to the National Assembly for discussion and adoption.
The Kenyan Government’s drafts on the action plans of Human Rights in the Business community are in line with UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), but the businesses have low or little understanding of the business human rights issues. Also, the draft process is slow going. The current position of the NAP is that there is a final draft that has been tabled before the Attorney General and subsequently before the Cabinet.
The National Steering Committee was established to spearhead the development process and comprises the following institutions.
- Office of the Attorney General & Department of Justice,
- Ministry of Labour and Social Protection,
- Ministry of Energy and Petroleum,
- Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU),
- Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR),
- Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC),
- Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE),
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),
- Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA),
- Global Compact Network Kenya (GCNK),
- Council of Governors (COG),
- National Gender and Equality Commission,
- Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB).
Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) in conjunction with Global Partners Digital (GPD) conducted a training workshop that took place in May 2019. The workshop included representatives from Kenyan tech start-ups, civil society, and the Legal fraternity. We also conducted a social media campaign in February 2020 to sensitize Kenyans online on their business human rights and identify issues that affect them day to day as they go about their jobs. These are some of the issues that were identified that are connected to Business and Human Rights in Kenya.
- Education on terms and Conditions – There has been little awareness on some of the Terms & Conditions that some of these products/services or apps provide. Most people do not read the fine print and/or read but do not understand.
- Blacklisting on Credit Reference Bureau – Credit institutions list people on CRB without proper notice. Once one gets on the CRB list, getting clearance is a hassle.
- Moral issues- A lot of people are getting into gambling and online gaming. It was deduced that advertising should be regulated and/or not done during prime-time hours, but is it effective?
- Illiteracy of the users of Money Lending Apps such as Branch, Tala and Okash.
- The Huduma number issue-The state is conducting a massive registration of persons. There is little information on why they need certain details and what the information will be used for.
- Recently, Apple was fined for slowing down old iPhones, which they had been doing for a while.
- The Chinese restaurant owner whose video of him whipping an employee in the workplace spread online.
- Businesses exploiting artists and interns in the name of providing exposure and work experience
- Data privacy issues – These include money lending apps such as the Fuliza Service Safaricom product which informs a sender that the person they are sending money to has a loan. There are also apps that send messages to your contacts and ask them to tell you to pay your loan.
- Consent- an example is if your employer suddenly decides to put a biometric keypad at the door without asking is a privacy violation.
Business Human Rights Webinar
BAKE organized a webinar to educate and sensitize the working class on the importance of respecting the rights of their employees and customers and be a part of the solution. The panel will involve experts in the human rights field and businesses field to offer their expert opinions on what they are doing to mitigate human rights violations and the way forward. The webinar will be a part two of the conversation on the 27th of August.