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Nairobi: Technical Committee Meeting Charts Way Forward for Kenyan National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders

On October 6 and 7, 2011, members of the Technical Committee of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders gathered at the Olive Gardens Hotel in Nairobi to review the progress of institutionalising the coalition.

Previous meetings of the Kenyan Coalition, including the Coalition’s general assembly held in February 2011, discussed emerging issues with respect to protection of human rights defenders in Kenya and the strategic direction of the National Coalition.  The technical committee was formed at the February meeting to oversee the implementation of recommendations including the setting up of a fully functional and effective secretariat, enhancement of the coalition governance structures and putting in place various systems to enhance the professionalism, accountability, visibility and rapid response function of the coalition.

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders was initially formed in November 2007, as one of the outcomes of a meeting of human rights defenders in Kenya facilitated by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP). The formation of the Coalition was informed by the necessity to coordinate efforts in addressing the needs of HRDs’, including protection and advocacy. Since its creation, the National Coalition has operated without its own secretariat. The Coalition was previously hosted by the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) and presently by the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

Delegates at the meeting last week agreed on a timetable within which the Coalition would set up a functioning secretariat and also amended the various governance structures of the coalition to ensure regional, gender and thematic representation. It was recommended that the Board of Trustees be increased from the current three members to seven members and representation of members to the Advisory Council was amended to reflect the new geographical areas (counties) introduced by Kenya’s new constitution.

The recommendations from this meeting will be tabled before the General Assembly for endorsement. The General Assembly is scheduled to meet in 2012.

EHAHRDP supports the creation of national human rights defenders coalitions in countries in the region and continues to offer support and guidance to the Kenyan Coalition.

For more information, please contact: Mr. Hassan Shire Sheikh, Executive Director, EHAHRDP and Trustee of the Kenyan Coalition on +256 772 753 753 or [email protected] or Mr DK Kamau, Consultant to the Technical Committee of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya on +254 722 166 382.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Leon Ntakiyiruta

As a child, Leon wanted to be a magistrate – whom he saw as agents of justice. Born in 1983 in Burundi’s Southern province, he came of age at a time of great social and political upheaval in the East African country. In 1993 when Leon was barely 10, Burundi was besieged by a civil war that would last for the next 12 years until 2005, characterized by indiscriminate violence and gross human rights abuses in which over 300,000 people are estimated to have died.In 2012, still struggling to find her footing in Kampala, Aida was introduced to DefendDefenders, where she was introduced to the organisation’s resource center, and assured, it (the center) would be at her disposal whenever she needed to use it.