WINNERS OF THE 2018 HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AWARDS ANNOUNCED
30 November 2018 – Nairobi, Kenya.
The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya (NCHRD-K) and the Working Group on Human Rights Defenders announced today the winners of the 2018 Human Rights Defenders awards during a ceremony held in Nairobi at the Residence of the Belgian Ambassador.
The 2018 winners are:
For the third consecutive year, and chosen by an independent selection panel of eminent Kenyans, chaired by Dr Willy Mutunga, the three different awards were handed out to the winners for their outstanding work in the field of human rights. Some of the selection criteria included civil courage, leadership, innovation, demonstrable impact of the Human Rights Defender’s work on the community, and creativity.
“In every community, there are individuals who stand out. They defend human rights, and they do so at times under very extraordinary circumstances,” says Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders. “The good bit is that their work is appreciated by the society but they are rarely honoured with state commendations. The awards ceremony is a special occasion to honour those courageous individuals who do excellent work within our communities.”
The objective of the Awards ceremony is to honor the extraordinary work of Human Rights Defenders in the protection of human rights while they face many challenges in their capacity of agents of social change and transformation. An important aim of the awards is to improve the safety and protection of Human Rights Defenders as they benefit from the visibility and international recognition.
“As a country, Belgium strongly believes that respect for human rights is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society, as well as of development,” says H.E. Nicolas Nihon, Ambassador of Belgium to Kenya. “Human rights and the protection of Human Rights Defenders are a very important part of our foreign policy and we believe that solidarity in this domain is essential.”
The Awards ceremony is an initiative of the Human Rights Defenders Working Group, currently presided by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders of Kenya and co- chaired by Belgium. The Working Group brings together civil society organizations, activists and development partners to pursue the universal goal of protecting human rights and the defenders of these rights.
For more information, or interview requests, please contact:
Notes to the Editors:
Further details on the 2018 Winners:
Anastasia is a mother, a preacher by profession and an avid advocate of environmental rights. She started her human rights defence work in 2009 when a metal refinery was established in the Uhuru Owino slums without community consent or consultation. The adverse effects of the metal refinery led to active advocacy and lobbying by Anastasia and community members. Their struggle bore fruit in 2014 when the refinery was closed. Anastasia and the community have undergone various challenges including demolition of their homes, she has faced verbal attacks, threats through texts and attempts to break into her home. To deal with these challenges she sought refuge in Uganda for some time. She also realized that she had to have resilience to overcome some of the challenges. However, these challenges do not deter her from her quest for justice. The award will encourage members of her community that despite the challenges and struggles involved in advocating for what is right, there is hope of celebrating their successes with the world.
Is’haq was born and educated in Lamu County where he is a public relations manager working with the indigenous community. He is also a human rights defender focusing on environmental rights issues. Is’haq was initially involved with the Wanaharakati Okoa Lamu Community Based Organisation (CBO), which his father founded together with Imams in Lamu. He however then went on and co-founded Save Lamu, an umbrella of CBOs established in Lamu in the onset of the LAPSSET project. Save Lamu sensitizes the community on the environmental impact of the LAPSSET project and represents the interest of the community by seeking legal redress through an environmental petition filed on human rights violations associated with the LAPSSET project. Is’haq is also the founder of Lamu Coastal Indigenous Peoples Right for Development. His father’s work and legacy is his greatest inspiration and keeps him going despite the challenges he faces in his human rights work. He has experienced threats from anonymous people and police harassment, which he has overcome through strategic partnerships with mainstream organizations in the country such as NCHRD – K, MUHURI and KNCHR. Is’haq believes that the award will legitimize his work, encourage and enhance efforts of HRDs in Lamu to work openly and in partnership with duty bearers in defending indigenous peoples’ rights.
Christine is a mother, an accountant and a woman leader in her Endorois community. Over time, Christine has grown to be a strong human rights defender advocating for the rights of the Endorois community both at a local, national, regional and international level. She has placed special focus on Endorois women land rights through her work with the Endorois Welfare Council (EWC) as a Program Officer – Women’s Land Rights. As a human rights defender, she advocates against FGM in the community and for the empowerment of the Endorois women and girls. She has also trained women in her community on their rights which has boosted their participation and confidence in the community. One of her
successes was when she represented her community and strongly articulated issues affecting her community at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) session in 2011. She was able to share the progress of the case that the community won in 2010 at the same session in Banjul, The Gambia. Christine has walked the fine line between being a woman from a conservative community and leading from the front as part of the community negotiating team, despite being a woman with a disability. The award will boost her spirits and will provide her a platform to advance the Endorois community case, as well as highlight the plight of indigenous women land rights.
Okiya Omtatah Okoiti is a member of the Catholic Church who believes in the social doctrine of the Good Samaritan, and the call to be the salt of the earth as a witness of Jesus Christ, which influences his work. He is also a published author and an accomplished playwright who has published five plays in Kenya and in the USA. As a HRD, he mostly engages in civic action in defence of human rights for he believes a human being is created in God’s image and likeness and, therefore, must be respected in all circumstances. He advocates for rights through litigation as the outcome goes on record and becomes part of the law. He has prosecuted many cases on various issues to defend the Constitution and uphold the rule of law, because he believes that if the law is respected, violations of human rights will not occur. Okiya has been active in human rights for decades. One of his key earliest successes being his campaign in 1994 against the attempt by powerful individuals in Government to illegally acquire the land occupied by the National Theatre in Nairobi so that they could construct a silo for parking cars on it. He also notes that an important achievement for him as a creative writer was to defend the freedom of creative expression in the petition he successfully filed against the Government’s decision to ban a stage play titled Shackles of Doom, which was a winning script performed during the year 2013 National Drama Festivals by Butere Girls High School. As a result of his success, the girls were able to perform their play at the National Finals in Mombasa, with the Court ordering the Government to foot their bill. What is outstanding about Okiya is that he is driven by conviction in the worth of his work, which has served him well. He believes that winning the award will profile his work and offer him a veil of protection.
7TH NOVEMBER 2018
TO ALL NEWS EDITORS PRESS RELEASE
CALL FOR INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY OF OFFICERS FOUND CULPABLE OF VIOLATING THE SIXTH SCHEDULE OF THE NPS ACT 2011
We are greatly dismayed by the impunity displayed by the police officer in this incident and many more, and call for the following action:
1. The Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) expedite investigations into the apparent summary execution of the 20 young men and forward the report to the director of public prosecution’s office for prosecution
of the officers found culpable.
Finally we urge the IG, IPOA, the IAU and the NPSC to enhance mechanisms of bringing to end indiscriminate executions of people without due process of the law. It is our considered view that the police cannot be investigators, prosecutors, judges and executioners at the same time.
National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya (NCHRD-K)
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ-K)
International Commission of Jurists –Kenya (ICJ-K)
Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)
International Justice Mission (IJM)
Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU)
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
Rights Promotion and Protection Centre (RPP)
Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-K)
Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW)
Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ)
Amnesty International – Kenya
Transparency International Kenya
Katiba Institute (KI)
Social Justice Centre Working Group (SJCWG)
63rd Ordinary Session of the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Public Session; Human Rights Situation in Africa
25th October 2018
Statement by NATIONAL COALITION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS-KENYA (NCHRD-K)
Madame Chairperson, distinguished Commissioners, State Delegates, representatives of NHRIs and NGOs.
On behalf of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders -Kenya (NCHRD-K), I would like to thank the Commission for this opportunity to raise some of the key human rights concerns from Kenya.
We are particularly concerned that the legitimate role of protection and promotion of human rights carried on by human rights defenders and Civil Society Organizations is criminalized and target for reprisal by both state and non-state actors. Below are a few incidences of violation of human rights fundamental freedoms of human rights defenders in Kenya:
Freedom of Association: Kenyan police have continued to harass and threaten HRDs that demand justice for victims and advocate for accountability for serious injuries, death and destruction of property by security agents following unrest that took place post 2017 general elections. Most of the incidents reported by HRDs include threats of arrest, warnings against posting information about police brutality, home and office raids, and confiscation of laptops and other items. The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders documented up to 15 cases where activists suffered these intimidation tactics.The protection of HRDs should be adhered to as prescribed by law.
Freedom of Expression: On 29 May 2018, The High Court in Nairobi temporarily suspended 26 sections of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill, which was signed into law by the President on 16 May 2018, after an appeal by the Bloggers Association of Kenya, among others. While the objective of the law was to address issues including cybercrime, cyber bullying, phishing, and fake news, the law contains provisions which threaten the freedom of expression, right to privacy, the right to a fair trial. On 3 July, the suspension of the 26 provisions was extended when the Court will hear an application by the Attorney General to have the suspension lifted on the basis that it was erroneously issued.
On 31 July, during a parliamentary session, two journalists with the privately-owned People Daily newspaper were threatened with being barred from covering future parliamentary proceedings and summoned to a legislative committee. The summons was allegedly in connection to stories published on 30-31 July accusing MPs of taking and soliciting bribes from organizations and individuals they were meant to be investigating. Such threats and intimidation tactics affect on the freedom of journalists to carry out their legitimate work.
Freedom of Information: In October 2018, the Kenya government introduced a 15% excise duty tax on internet services through a new Finance bill, effected on 15th October. The Bill restricts Kenyans’ access to internet services which plays a major role in promoting access to information.
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly: Police arrested two environmental activists on 25 May 2018 during a protest against plans to set up a coal-fired power plant at Kwasasi, Lamu County. The group had sought permission to peacefully assemble and demonstrate but their request was rejected by police who deemed the protest “unlawful.”
The fact that the individuals were arrested while peacefully protesting raises concerns regarding the Kenyan government’s respect for the constitution, Article 11 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights and international law standards that safeguards the right to peacefully assemble.
In light of these updates and observations, we urge the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to:
I thank You
Civic space in Kenya continues to be under pressure as a range of actions are being directed against the work of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) and Civil Society organizations in Kenya. Physical attacks, criminal and administrative actions, legislative restrictions, negative rhetoric and limitation of human rights have undermined the Constitutional and international protections available to HRDs.
It is against this backdrop that the Working Group on Human Rights Defenders in Kenya, which brings together CSOs and development partners concerned with the protection of HRDs, is organizing the third edition of the HRD Awards on the 30th of November 2018. The aim of the ceremony is to honour and publicly recognize the important work of HRDs in Kenya, by giving out awards to men and women who have demonstrated courage and impact in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The awards are presented in three categories: the Munir Mazrui Lifetime achievement award, the Human Rights Defender of the year award and the upcoming Human Rights Defender of the year award.
The objectives of these awards are to:
The Working Group on Human Rights Defenders in Kenya develops a call for nominations which is then widely circulated by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya (NCHRD-K) and other partners. This call outlines the criteria for eligibility for nomination.
A panel then shortlists five individuals per category within the set out guidelines for shortlisting candidates.
The panel verifies the HRDs human rights work through field visits, and interviews with the nominators, the nominees and their references.
The Independent Selection Panel, which comprises of eminent individuals in the human rights sector, will decide who will receive the awards based on the profiles of the nominated HRDs.
Will be held on the 30th November 2018 in the presence of CSOs, the government, selected HRDs, representatives from the international missions, and the media who will cover the event.
The following will be taken into consideration:
The winners will receive:
All nomination forms should be sent back to the NCHRD-K via firstname.lastname@example.org with a clear subject line “HRD AWARD NOMINATION” by 20th July 2018, 12.00 pm.
Get the application form here:NOMINATION FORM FOR THE HRD AWARDS 2018