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 21st July 2019 

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya (NCHRD-K) condemns the arbitrary arrest of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) drawn from Nairobi based Social Justice Centres – Mathare Social Justice Centre, Dandora Community Justice centre, Kayole Community Justice Centre, Kariobangi Social Justice Centre and Ghetto Foundation. 

On 18th July 2019, the organising committee notified the Officer Commanding Police station (OCS) of Huruma police station about a HRDs welfare convening, ‘A team building session cum Human Rights Defenders party’ to take place on Saturday 20th July at the New Mathare Community school. 

However, as the HRDs were on their way home, twelve HRDs were arrested. They were charged with incitement to violence at the police station and causing damages to property at the police station. 

The NCHRD-K is worried by the rising trend of criminalising HRDs work especially after the #SabaSabaMarchForOurLives on 7th July 2019. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders will continue with its pursuit of justice of the HRDs beginning tomorrow 22nd July 2019 at Makadara Law courts. 

NCHRD-K thus: continuously calls on all security agents to ‘Stop criminalising Human Rights Defenders and ensure they enjoy a safe operating environment to aid their course for a free and just society,’ Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director NCHRD – K 

For more information or to arrange for interviews contact |Francis Ndegwa francis@hrdcoalition.org| 0721443397 | Communications Officer at NCHRD-K| www.hrdcoaltion.org)| 


20 June 2019

Nairobi Kenya

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya (NCHRD-K) strongly condemn the recent threats to human rights defenders from the Ogiek People’s Development Program (OPDP) in Nakuru County. There has been death threats against Mr. Kobei, the Ogiek People’s Development Programme Director, two other colleagues from the community leaders and threats against the closure of the organization.

On May 26 2017, OPDP went to the African Court to petition the Ogiek case which had seen perpetrators want to pave way for an easy settlement in the Mau forest, ignore and ensure a non- implementation of their case. Following an eight year legal battle, this right was however affirmed by the decision of the African Court that has asserted community right to land.

The OPDP and its leadership has for many years received threats because of their active agitation of the land rights of indigenous Ogiek community living in the Mau Forest.. The recent threats started when despite delayed implementation of the decision, the Kenyan government set up a taskforce to receive views from various stakeholders to inform the implementing the court decision. OPDP mobilized its members who have articulated their claim to land right, plans for rehabilitation of the forest and recommended annulling of titles deeds issued to private citizens following excision of the forest.

The beneficiaries of the forest land have vowed to reverse this through various legal and extra-judicial strategies including threats and intimidation of Indigenous peoples rights activists.

The National Colaition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya call on:

  1. National Police Service and the Office of the Director of Criminal Investigations to investigate the threats reported by the Human Rights Defenders from the Ogiek Community.
  2. The government of Kenya to investigate the destruction of property belonging to the Ogiek community that happened last week and hold the perpetrators into action.
  3. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) to conduct thorough investigation to ongoing human rights violations of the Indigenous peoples living in the Mau and other forests in Kenya.


Kamau Ngugi

Executive Director,
National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya

For more information or to arrange for interviews contact |Francis Ndegwa| francis@hrdcoalition.org| 0721443397 | Communications Officer at NCHRD-K


19th June 2019 Nairobi, Kenya

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya (NCHRD-K) strongly condemns the arrest of two Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), Davis Malombe and Julius Kamau, who were taking part in a peaceful demonstration, (#IAmTheSudanRevolution) in solidarity with the people of Sudan, calling an end to the mass atrocities being committed by the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) .The constitution of Kenya Article 37 clearly encourages the Rights and fundamental freedoms of assembly, and demonstration.

In the last one month, the people of Sudan have been subjected to brutal crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators, sexual violence for both women and men, media and internet shutdown amongst others. Human Rights Defenders and the public drawn from the most African and West African countries have come together to form the #Africans4Sudan movement to help lobby the governments and African and International Bodies to exert pressure on the Sudanese military to ensure a civilian led transitional authority established.

NCHRD-K is concerned with the growing disregard of notifications to demonstrate, by security agents in the country. On 14th June 2019, HRDs had notified the OCS central police station about the demonstration and requested for security. The arrest comes barely two months after the arrest of Kenyan Activist Beatrice Waithera on 30th April 2019 while participating in an anti-corruption protest in Nairobi. NCHRD-K is also concerned with the threats to curtail the freedom of association by the various government officials including through legislation.

We therefore call for:

  1. The Inspector General of Police to unconditionally release the arrested human rights defenders.
  2. The office of the attorney general to do an advisory to the government departments to uphold human rights and especially the Right to Freedom of Assembly.


Kamau Ngugi,
Executive Director, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya
For more information or to arrange for interviews contact |Francis Ndegwa| francis@hrdcoalition.org| 0721443397 | Communications Officer at NCHRD-K

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya (NCHRD-K) is the only national organization that has been in the forefront to ensure a conducive working environment for human rights defenders in Kenya for the last 10 years.



Intolerance towards LGBTI individuals and organisations is exacerbated by laws which make same sex activity illegal. This creates an unsafe environment for LGBTI individuals to live openly in regard to their sexual identity and orientation, and hinders their access to health, safety and other public services. Despite Kenya being one of the more progressive countries in East Africa regarding LGBQ awareness and rights, the nation still prohibits LGBQ persons. From 2010 to 2014, Kenya prosecuted 595 people for their sexuality, and LGBTI organization, based in Nairobi, have been working to reverse strict laws prohibiting gay relationships.[1] More so, ITGNC HRDs together with their constituents face a number of challenges and issues in their work. Their work is never safe even where they have to set up an office due to fear of victimization by either the landlord or the community around. Security is not guaranteed when they are training their members especially now that they have to do it in their office compound. The sensation about it all turns to be a security threat to them. They have to be mindful of socialization issues and places.

NCHRD-K in partnership with GALCK developed a SOGIE guide and a training manual for the SOGIE community in 2017. The guide provides practical step- by step ways to ensure safety and security of LGBTI persons and SOGIE HRDs/ HROs that recognize and work to defend SOGIE as human rights in Kenya. It presents key concepts of safety, protection and security. It looks at risks and threats, and how LGBQ persons and SOGIE HRDs can respond to them and also provide information and explanation on what contributes to security risks and threats.

With all this in mind there is great need to sensitize ITGNC HRDs on the guide in order to enhance their ability to protect themselves in their often dangerous working conditions as well as contribute to enhanced efficiency in their efforts to protect those whose rights have been violated. NCHRD- K also feels there is need to conduct an extensive security needs mapping on ITGNC HRDs while sensitizing them as well on the Safety and Protection guide in order to enable them have a wider reach into the community.

It is for these and other reasons that NCHRD-K convened  one-day dialogues with  ITGNC HRDs to better understand the security concerns they face in the course of their human rights work and strategies in place to mitigate against those concerns for the purposes of developing a security guide and training manual for the ITGNC community.


To carry out a needs assessment security mapping amongst ITGNC HRDs from Nairobi, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Western and Coast regions in order to better understand the security concerns they face in the course of their human rights work and strategies in place to mitigate against those concerns.




The identification of safety and protection measures amongst ITGNC HRDs working on SOGIE issues.


The development of sustainable safety and protection measures informed by ITGNC HRDS security needs to ensure the safe conduct of their human rights work.


[1] In East Africa, Threats to LGBTQ Rights Intensify, Source; http://www.passblue.com/2017/12/12/in-east-africa-threats-to-lgbtq-rights-intensify/ , last accessed 21st July 2018


Human Rights Defenders Securing The Right To Vote in Kenya

The History of Kenyan democracy

In a democracy, the authority of the government derives solely from the consent of the governed and is realised by holding free and fair elections. But from 1969, Kenya was a de facto one-party state and in June 1982, the National Assembly of Kenya passed Article 2A of the Constitution of Kenya, officially declaring Kenya a de jure one-party state. This saw the consolidation of power within the ruling party, and opposition leaders and citizens at large were unable to speak freely, assemble, or move around the country to offer alternative voices, speak their criticisms of the government openly and bring alternative policies and candidates to voters. State-sponsored repression that included arbitrary arrests, detention without trial, prolonged trials arising from trumped-up charges, torture and other human rights violations were meted out on citizens, the academic community, journalists and politicians who expressed dissenting opinions or were perceived to be doing so by state agents.

Between 1982 and 1992, political leaders and human rights defenders (HRDs) in Kenya came together, amid serious repression, to champion multi-partyism, demanding democratic elections that would meet the threshold of being competitive, periodic, inclusive and definitive, and would thus give power back to citizens who would enjoy broad freedom to criticise the government, publish their criticisms and present alternative views. These efforts were met with resistance and those at the forefront experienced arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, enforced disappearance, threats and harassment.

The efforts of the reformers, as they were popularly known, won the support of foreign missions, primarily from western states, and bilateral and multilateral donors, which demanded that the Kenyan government should embrace democracy with all its tenets of good governance, accountability and transparency as well as respect for human rights as a condition for aid. Faced with protests, boycotts and international pressure, the government caved in, albeit reluctantly, to the demands for political pluralism, which was restored in 1992 with the repeal of Article 2A.

It should be recalled that the repeal of Article 2A to allow for multiparty politics was not complemented by other legal and institutional reforms to enable a thriving democracy. This was compounded by state efforts to scuttle the conduct of free and fair elections by persistent state-orchestrated inter-ethnic hatred that translated into political and ethnic clashes that took place in 1992 and in every election period since the introduction of multiparty democracy in Kenya.

Violations during elections and civil society responses

The climax of simmering ethnic tensions was the eruption of violence following the 2007 general elections that plunged Kenya into political, economic and humanitarian crisis. The conflict saw serious human rights violations committed in a context where over 600,000 Kenyans were internally displaced and close to 2,000 people were killed. The stalemate between rival presidential candidates Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki was resolved in February 2008 following the negotiation and signing of the National Peace Accord and the subsequent enactment of the National Peace Accord and Reconciliation Act. Among the agenda items this laid out was the need for a new constitution, which was drafted and promulgated after a referendum in 2010.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) and HRDs in Kenya once again played a critical role in the documentation of human rights violations, championing justice for the victims and accountability for perpetrators. The documentation of human rights violations by HRDs was particularly critical in laying the foundation for the investigation of the 2007 election violations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and subsequent prosecution of six individuals believed to have been most responsible. The role of CSOs and HRDs in documenting violations has ever since put them in the crosshairs of the political elite, who have targeted individual HRDs with threats, harassment and intimidation, and have aimed negative rhetoric at CSOs with the aim of denting their credibility in society. There is also an attack on the media and journalists, despite the constitutional protection of media freedom and media independence.

Faced with a state increasingly intolerant of the demands made by critical media and CSOs for accountability, integrity and good governance, CSOs have developed survival measures that have included collaboration and joint actions. Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, for example, was created after the events of 2007 as a collective of CSOs committed to accountability and justice for victims of post-electoral violence. The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya (NCHRD-K) was also established as a platform for HRDs to respond to the risks they and their organisations face and work towards expanded space for civic engagement.

During the election period, NCHRD-K was preoccupied with the safety of HRDs and election monitors, as their work has increasingly been criminalised. The instigation of early warning systems and training for networks of HRDs and CSOs were among measures put in place to mitigate personal risks against HRDs and CSO personnel.

Ongoing repression and the 2017 elections

The reality of state repression against CSOs and HRDs in Kenya is well documented. Attempts by CSOs to challenge the validity of the candidatures of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to stand as president and running mate in 2013, while they were under investigation and indeed indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, as prohibited by chapter 6 of the constitution on leadership and integrity, were unsuccessful. The High Court ruled against the petitioners – the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists – and ordered that they bear the costs of the suit, amounting to over 100 million Kenyan shillings (approx. US$1 million), despite the case being a matter of public interest. Further, organisations deemed critical of the government, including the Africa Centre for Open Governance, were negatively profiled, branded as supporters of the opposition and accused of advancing the agenda of their western masters. This negative rhetoric has been propagated for years and has created a volatile environment for HRDs and CSOs to operate in.

The relationship between the state and CSOs has soured and the state has implemented measures that have steadily shrunk civic space. Numerous attempts were made to amend the 2013 Public Benefits Organizations (PBO) Act before its operationalisation to include provisions that were repressive to the work of CSOs. These were coupled with ongoing targeting of individuals and organisations, malicious prosecutions, deregistration of CSOs and eventual transfer of government responsibility for civil society from the Ministry of Devolution and Planning to the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.

This repressive environment set the stage for the 2017 elections, which again saw CSOs and HRDs take up their role as election and human rights monitors. Election monitors were deployed across Kenya by CSOs and CSO networks, including the Election Observation Group, Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu and NCHRD-K. Strategies that had been perfected over the years were put in place to document and report on human rights violations and electoral malpractices effectively.

Previous elections had set a precedent for the reprisals to be faced by HRDs and CSOs. It was therefore necessary to enhance the capacity of election monitors for effective monitoring and documentation as well as able management of their physical and digital security to ensure individual response to risks. In an effort to localise protection measures NCHRD-K created linkages between election monitors from various institutions, connecting them with each other and with service providers – doctors, lawyers and counsellors – at the county level. NCHRD-K also focused on establishing strong working relationships between HRDs and relevant state institutions concerned with election management to facilitate an efficient flow of information for timely reporting, remedy and urgent response.

In addition, NCHRD-K developed a secure mobile app, Mtetezi (Defender), to allow for effective and efficient communication. The app also has a panic button to trigger urgent response by NCHRD-K and its partners. Despite all these measures, monitors, observers, journalists and HRDs still faced threats and intimidation, arrests, negative profiling, physical attacks and the limitation of the freedom of association during the election period.

Despite these challenges and security concerns CSOs and HRDs do not relent in their struggle for democracy, accountability and good governance. CSOs and HRDs need to have a multifaceted approach to ensuring their safety and security. This should involve network formation and collaboration at county, national, regional and international levels to act as a deterrent as well as to mitigate against and respond to risks to HRDs. This will require buy-in from HRDs, CSOs and even selected state institutions – locally and from across the globe – which should come together to stand in solidarity with Kenyan HRDs and CSOs, in order to profile their situation and amplify their voices in the global arena.

Article by Kamau Ngugi and Yvonne Owino-Wamari, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya
Get more stories about 2018 Re-imagining Democracies across the world here: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/re-imagining-democracy



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