The Ambassadors of the United States of America, The Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark, along with the High Commissioners for the United Kingdom and Canada, in a joint statement issued on November 4th, once again underscored their strong and ongoing support for a vibrant, free, and independent civil society in Kenya.
“In this context,” the statement read, “we welcome the decision by the Government of Kenya to suspend the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Coordination Board's October 29 notice that it intends to cancel the registration certificates of 959 Kenyan NGOs. The original decision announced by the Board raised serious concerns and questions about regulation of the sector.”
The signatories noted that “as international partners, we are fully committed to supporting appropriate transparency and accountability with regard to NGOs. However, we also believe that regulation must be fair, reasonable, and justly administered. We urge the Board to ensure all NGOs have timely information and an adequate opportunity to answer any questions or address concerns. We, as donors, require detailed financial reports and regular audits from NGOs that we partner with, and insist on transparency and accountability in our ongoing oversight. We have no evidence that NGOs to which we provide donor funds are supporting or funding terrorism or are engaged in other illegal activity.”
The governments signatory to the joint statement “strongly support the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association for civil society as is guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya” and “firmly believe that a strong civil society is vital to protecting fundamental rights, strengthening democratic institutions, building prosperity, and ensuring security. NGOs provide a wide range of essential services to Kenyans including in healthcare and education.”
The governments issuing the statement again urged “the Government of Kenya to implement as soon as possible the Public Benefit Organizations Act of 2013, which provides an excellent framework for the regulation of civil society organizations while at the same time ensuring transparency and accountability in the sector's work.”