Human Rights activists honoured for societal impact

They were sensitised on three critical areas to protect themselves in line of duty.

In Summary
  • They were drawn from all the 47 counties across the country.
  • The award ceremony was held at the Danish Embassy in Nairobi.
Human Rights Activists awarded in Nairobi on December 8, 2023.
Human Rights Activists awarded in Nairobi on December 8, 2023.
Image: HANDOUT

In a celebration filled with grandeur, the 2023 Human Rights Activists were honored for their exceptional contributions to society.

The HRD Awards, aimed at acknowledging and commemorating the remarkable efforts of human rights defenders, followed a thorough selection process conducted by an independent panel of the awards Jury.

The awards ceremony culminated after a successful five-day training for the Human Rights Defenders as part of the annual Human Rights Defenders Academy 2023.

During the academy, the activists received comprehensive training in three crucial areas: Digital Security Management, Climate and Environmental Justice, and Physical Security Management.

Hailing from all 47 counties across the country, they were sensitized to enhance their capabilities in championing human rights.

The award ceremony was held at the Danish Embassy in Nairobi.

Among the leaders who attended included the Ambassador of Denmark to Kenya Stephan Schonemann, other Ambassadors and Defenders Coalition Executive Director Kamau Ngugi.

Others included Chief Justice Martha Koome's representative Justice William Ouko and Advocate of the High Court of Kenya Paul Muite.

Some of the categories that were awarded included the HRD of the Year Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Global Solidarity Award and the Winner of Popular Vote.

Defenders Coalition Executive Director Kamau Ngugi speaking during the HRD award ceremony in Nairobi on December 8, 2023.
Defenders Coalition Executive Director Kamau Ngugi speaking during the HRD award ceremony in Nairobi on December 8, 2023.
Image: HANDOUT

Defenders Coalition Director Ngugi said the move is a strategy that aims to counter unmitigated public vilification of activists by state and non-state actors to showcase the impactful work of HRDs.

He said the HRDs Awards have been organized annually since 2016 by a collective of like-minded actors in civil society, development partners, foreign missions and UN agencies.

"Honoring extraordinary work of defending human rights serves as a reminder of the sacrifices of these selfless, passionate Individuals and their organizations who most time seman unnoticed except when they inhale teargas, jailed or injured because of speaking truth to power, " Ngugi said.

"Awards provide a rare safe space for activists to have fun, network, and be recognized, honoured, and celebrated for their courage and sacrifice. Through the Awards, we keep the public well informed on the important role that individuals and groups in societies play to defend and promote human rights," he added

Ngugi stated that Defenders nominated 367 individuals and groups for their exceptional service to the community, deserving recognition.

From this pool of 367 nominees, the Selection Committee singled out 13 as outstanding, forwarding their profiles to an independent panel of the HRD Awards Jury.

Ambassador of Denmark to Kenya Stephan Sch√łnemann during the HRD award ceremony in Nairobi on December 8, 2023.
Ambassador of Denmark to Kenya Stephan Sch√łnemann during the HRD award ceremony in Nairobi on December 8, 2023.
Image: HANDOUT

The 2023 HRD Awards was hosted by the Embassy of Denmark in Kenya who are co-chairs of the Working Group on HRDs with Defenders Coalition.

Ambassador Schonemann highlighted the vital role of human rights in society, shaping standards that safeguard the dignity of every individual.

He emphasized that human rights govern how individuals live within society, interact with each other, and relate to the State.

Recognizing the indispensable centrality of human rights to proper human existence, he commended the honored human rights defenders for their courage, conviction, and zeal in promoting and protecting a diverse range of rights.

Ambassador Schonemann expressed his exceptional privilege in being part of the ceremony to honor these inspirational defenders.

"I laud the courage, conviction and zeal of these inspirational human rights defenders and it is thus an exceptional privilege to be part of this ceremony to honour them," he said.

Among those who were nominated included Dahabo Abagaro Bagajo, from Marsabit County, Silvana Lesuuda from Samburu County, Dennis Orengo from Nairobi County, James Wakibia, Epakan Ekaale Peter from Turkana County and Makambo Lotorobo from Samburu.

Others included Njeri Gateru, Sankara Nyangaya from Kajiado County, Shikoh Kihika from Nakuru County, Pema Kenya from Mombasa County and the Black Lives Matter Movement for Global Solidarity Award.

Human Rights Activists during the HRD award ceremony in Nairobi on December 8, 2023.
Human Rights Activists during the HRD award ceremony in Nairobi on December 8, 2023.
Image: HANDOUT
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