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CSOs stand up against Sengwer community Evictions and Attacks on HRDs

Civil Society Organisations stand in solidarity with the Sengwer Community after the government warned of continued evictions

The civil society comprised of human rights and conservation organizations once again call on the Kenyan government to end forced evictions in Embobut Forest and ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

Yesterday the official government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe, publicly announced that the government will launch a probe into the shooting and killing of Robert Kiprotich and serious injuring of David Kipkosgei. It was officially communicated that any officer who will be found culpable of the murder of Robert Kiprotich will be held liable.

The government’s commitment to end the ongoing forced evections in Embobut Forest has been publicly contradicted by Marakwet East Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Stephen Sangolo. The DCC informed the press that the operation of forcibly evicting Sengwer community members in Embobut Forest must continue.

As human rights and conservation organizations, we are deeply concerned about the mixed messaging by the government. Sangolo’s remarks come at a time when the Sengwer community is still coming to terms with the loss of one of their own, injury of another and displacement from their homes. The remarks further threaten the early resumption of the suspended Ksh. 3.6 billion funding to the Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programme.

We urge the inter-ministerial committee set up by the Kenyan Government to use this time to reflect and adopt a new approach to conservation, sustainable development and human rights to the ancestral land of the Sengwer indigenous people and others in Kenya. We also call on the government to put in place human rights frameworks that enable genuine consultation with the affected persons.

As we have said repeatedly, forced evictions violates the human rights of the Sengwer, including their right to housing and to their ancestral lands, under international law, African Union (AU) human rights standards, and the Constitution of Kenya.

Consequently we call on the government of Kenya to immediately;

  1. Publicly communicate an immediate halt to the Embobut evictions.
  2. Institute the probe promised and communicate publicly the outcome of the probe within seven days.
  3. Ensures consistency in their messaging to foster public confidence in their commitment to resolve the conflict.
  4. Ensure that all those affected by the forced evictions are allowed to return to their lands and no further retaliation happens to Sengwer leaders and community.
  5. Put in place human rights frameworks that enable genuine consultation with the affected persons.


Collective Statement on Sengwer killing (1)


Election Monitoring Report (3)






Civic space in Kenya continues to be under pressure with a range of actions employed against the work of Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society organizations in Kenya. Administrative action, legislative restrictions, negative rhetoric and limitation of human rights have undermined the Constitutional and international protections available to them hindering the realization of human rights and especially in the setting of an electoral period during the 2017 elections

It is against this backdrop that the Working Group on Human Rights Defenders in Kenya, that comprise of CSOs and development partners in Kenya, concerned with the protection of human rights defenders hold the 2017 Human Rights Defenders Awards. The HRD awards endeavour to publicly recognise the work of HRDs in Kenya through a HRD award ceremony. This will take place on 29th November 2017 – International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. There will be awards in three categories: The Munir Mazrui Lifetime Achievement Award, the HRD of the year award and the award for young and upcoming HRDs.


The objectives of this award is to:

  1. Honour the extra ordinary work of HRDs in the promotion and protection of human rights, profiling the work of HRDs and challenges they face as agents of social change and transformation.
  2. Enhance the safety and protection of all HRDs in Kenya
  3. Recognise and appreciate the human rights work of young and upcoming HRDs in Kenya and support talent.


  • Nomination: The Working Group on Human Rights Defenders in Kenya will develop a call for nominations which will be widely circulated by NCHRD-K and other partners. This call will outline the criteria for eligibility for nomination.
  • Shortlisting: A panel will shortlist ten individuals within the set out guidelines for shortlisting candidates.
  • Verification: The panel will then verify the HRDs human rights work through a field visits and interviews with those who work with the HRDs.
  • Judging: The judging panel, which will comprise eminent individuals in the human rights sector, will make a final decision, from the names submitted, who the recipient of the awards will be.
  • Award ceremony: will be held on the 29th November 2017 (International Women HRD Day) and will see the presence of representatives from the missions, CSOs, government, select HRDs and the media who will cover the event.


The following will be taken into consideration:

  • Grassroots based HRD
  • Demonstrable impact of the HRDs human rights work to the community
  • The role of the HRD in promoting human rights
  • ‘Civil courage’ of the HRD in his/her human rights work
  • Demonstrated leadership, innovation and creativity in his/her human rights work
  • Contribution to development of a human rights based approach within his/her county in regards to the thematic area of focus
  • Future goals and likely impact
  • Degree of difficulty of the achievement and sacrifices made
  • Visibility derived from award to enhance work of HRD to promote human rights and active citizenship
  • The HRD should have a link to the community and his/her work should have built or working towards building a movement.
  • The HRD should be a seasoned or upcoming in the human rights field.


Three awards will be presented to the overall winners, Munir Mazrui lifetime achievement award, HRD of the year and an upcoming HRD.

Munir Mazrui lifetime achievement award winner will receive:

  • Cash award of $ 1,000
  • A plaque with the HRDs name on it
  • Will be the guest at the HRD award ceremony 2018

HRD award of the year winner will receive:

  • Cash reward of $1,000
  • A plaque with the HRDs name on it
  • Will be the guest at the HRD award ceremony 2018

The Upcoming HRD will receive:

  • Cash reward of $1,000
  • A plaque with the HRDs name on it
  • Will be the guest at the HRD award ceremony 2018

The NCHRD-K therefore calls for nominations for Human Rights Defenders Award 2017.

All nomination forms should be sent back to the NCHRD-K via with a clear subject line “HRD AWARD NOMINATION” by 27 October 2017 at 12.00 pm

Download the nomination Form here: HRD AWARDS 2017 NOMINATION FORM









Safe Hubs for Human Rights Defenders at Risk in Africa launched

Members of the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRDN) from across East, Central, West, North and Southern regions of Africa

Kampala, Uganda — Members of the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRDN) from across East, Central, West, North and Southern regions of Africa gathered in Kampala, Uganda from 3 to 5 October 2017 to coordinate efforts to design and implement a functional and effective sub-regional support programme for human rights defenders (HRDs) facing imminent risk because of their work.

Members agreed on a unique and flexible model of safety hub programmes rooted in a collective commitment to protect the physical security, life, and liberty of HRDs on the continent.

The PAHDRN initiative is an effort driven by African civil society inspired by the Ubuntu spirit to effectively tackle threats to HRDs within the continent through creating safe (Ubuntu) spaces in Africa for HRDs. The Ubuntu spirit which inspires this project is part of the African philosophy of building communities to care about the humanity and dignity of others, in particular HRDs under distress.

Hassan Shire, Chairperson of PAHRDN and Executive Director of DefendDefenders, noted that the hub city programme would “dispel the notion that African HRDs can only get protection in Europe or North America. HRDs can find support here within the African continent and continue their human rights work closer to home.”

During the three-day meeting, network members engaged in lively and thoughtful discussions on particular aspects of the hub city programme, such as the various risks that proponents of human rights and good governance face, relocation as a safety measure, and the range of circumstances that can prompt internal or external relocation. Members further mapped out support structures and services needed to address the challenges HRDs may face during the relocation process.

Members concluded that building hub cities in the region based on geographical location, culture, and language was a viable initiative, and agreed on operationalisation framework, including collaboration with governments, local governments (municipalities), universities, national human rights institutions, as well as national and regional HRD networks.

The workshop discussions were synthesized into an agreement on a model for the safety hub city programme which was adopted by all members in attendance on behalf of their networks. Network members will continue to collaborate in the coming weeks to refine the agreement and develop accompanying guidelines to support its operationalisation in a way sensitive to local contexts.

“Participants are enthusiastic at the prospects of the hub city programme being operational. The operational parameters agreed at this meeting is really a huge first step towards realizing the hub city vision. It is a concept that has the potential to influence how other actors on the continent collaborate with one another”, said Arnold Tsunga, Chair of the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) and Africa Director of the International Commission of Jurists.

The Executive Director of National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya, Mr Kamau Ngugi stated that “the hub city initiative compliments the work of national coalitions by offering longer term intervention when risks for HRDs are prolonged.”

The HRDs thought leaders extended special thanks to the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), which sent a representative to share some lessons learnt as part of building cooperation with the PAHRDN.

The PAHRDN extends its appreciation to the sub-regional networks, national coalitions, human rights defenders and partner organisations that attended the workshop including: Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC), Southern Africa HRDs Network (SAHRDN), International Commission of Jurists-Africa, the Human Rights Lawyers- (LHR) South Africa, Tunisian League for Human Rights, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya, Human Rights Defenders Network-Sierra Leone, Coalition Ivoirienne des Defenseurs des Droits de l’Homme, Burundian Coalition of HRDs, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Sexual Minority Uganda, Reporters without Borders-Sweden, as well as exiled Human Rights Defenders from Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda based in Uganda; and Human Rights Defenders from Egypt and Lesotho.

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