Kenyans view human rights groups favourably, survey finds

A large majority of Kenyans express favourable attitudes toward national and international human rights organisations, a US-based polling group has reported.

An 83 per cent share of the 1,117 Kenyans taking part in the survey responded affirmatively when asked whether such advocacy groups have a “good influence on the way things are going in your country.”

Only the media and religious leaders received greater degrees of support — 89 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively — among national entities included in the survey conducted in the spring of this year.

FOREIGN INTERESTS

The police had the lowest approval rating (63 per cent), while the judicial system was viewed favourably by 70 per cent of respondents. The national government’s influence on conditions in the country was regarded as positive by 75 per cent of Kenyans.

The polling in Kenya was part of a Pew Research Centre study of attitudes toward human rights organisations in four developing nations. India, Indonesia and Mexico were also surveyed.

Kenyans decisively rejected the proposition that human rights organisations are primarily devoted to promoting foreign interests. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said the groups mainly aim to protect the rights of Kenyans themselves.

But only 30 per cent of Kenyans said human rights organisations have “a great deal” of influence on national affairs. An additional 38 per cent attributed “a fair amount” of influence to the advocacy groups.

“Promoting policies that help the poor” was regarded by 86 percent of Kenyans as a top priority for human rights organisations. That was the largest such majority among the four countries surveyed on preferred priorities for their respective human rights groups.

TOP PRIORITY

A big share of Kenyans (85 per cent) also agreed that human rights groups should give top priority to “ensuring elections are conducted freely and fairly.”

“Protesting police misconduct” and “promoting free speech and press freedom” were likewise identified by large majorities of Kenyans as priorities for human rights defenders. Survey participants in the other three countries did not express as high a degree of support for these activities as did Kenyans.

In contrast, only a small minority of Kenyans (16 per cent) said they believed human rights groups should focus on “guaranteeing that gays and lesbians have the same rights as other people.”

Indonesians, with 12 percent taking that view, expressed an even less enthusiastic attitude regarding gay rights advocacy.

The corresponding results for this element of the survey were 29 percent among Indians and 43 per cent among Mexicans.

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