The East Africa Tax and Governance Network (EATGN) launched its first report on taxation and human rights in East Africa. The study entitled ‘Taxation and Human Rights: taxing rights policies are human rights policies,’ is born of a series of collaboration with the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) with whom EATGN began a conversation about the link between tax and human rights.
The initial discussions in 2014 brought together members of county assemblies (MCAs), deputy governors and the civil society in Kenya. This conversation was then extended to the rest of the East African region given that the deliberations touched on the nature of tax collection and allocation of the same to key sectors. This was contextualized around adequate resourcing of essential services by states in respect to the social contract and in a bid to meet human rights obligations. The conference drew the conclusion that there was a need to elaborate through research the linkages between taxation and human rights, looking specifically at social, economic and cultural rights.
This discourse has never been more pertinent than in the wake of the Panama Papers that demonstrated the elaborate global financial architecture that undermines domestic resource mobilization capabilities of states. Philip Alston the special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, argues that tax makes resources available whereas tax policy demonstrates tangible action towards priority setting.
This report seeks therefore to draw this nexus between taxation and human rights by establishing trends of budgetary allocation towards economic, social and cultural rights against losses from revenue from tax incentives, drawing from experiences in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.