“The ability of CSOs [civil society organizations] to access funding … from domestic, foreign and international sources is an integral part of the right to freedom of association,” UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai reported in his second thematic report to the United Nations Human Rights Council. In Kenya, this right has come under direct threat with a new draft bill that would impose significant restrictions on the funding of Public Benefit Organizations (PBOs). PBOs are a category of CSOs created under the newly enacted PBO Act of 2013, which conferred certain benefits on CSOs whose activities serve the public good.
The Miscellaneous Amendment Bill of 2013, published on October 30, 2013, includes, among several problematic provisions, an amendment to the PBO Act of 2013 that seeks to cap the amount of foreign funding PBOs can receive at 15% of their budget. PBOs will only be able to receive more than the 15% of their budget from foreign sources if they demonstrate to the “Cabinet Secretary responsible for finance” that “there are legitimate and compelling reasons for increasing” the funding beyond the 15% limit.
According to one Kenyan organization, “If it is passed in its present form, [the bill] would make it hard for [PBOs] in the country to operate as it would cripple their source of funding… Most of the donors would also certainly not be keen on supporting the local [PBOs] with the repressive law.”
ICNL has been working with its partners in Kenya to promote the freedoms of assembly and association. We prepared comments on the PBO Act of 2013 and are currently analyzing the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill of 2013.