Defenders Coalition Human rights Defenders Award in Kenya 2020

Civic space in Kenya continues to be under pressure as a range of actions is being directed against the work of Human Rights Defenders (HRD), HRDS networks and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) in Kenya. Physical attacks, criminal and administrative actions, reprisals, 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, the UN and development partners concerned with the protection of HRDs, is organizing the fifth edition of the HRD Awards on the 27th of November 2020. The aim of the ceremony is to honor and publicly recognize the important work of HRDs and HRDs groups in Kenya, by giving out awards to those who have demonstrated courage, innovation 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:

  • Honor the extraordinary work of HRDs and groups of HRDs in the promotion and protection of human rights;
  • Profile the work of HRDs and the challenges they face as agents of social change and transformation;
  • Recognize and appreciate the human rights work of young and upcoming HRDs and HRD groups in Kenya and support talent;
  • Enhance the safety and protection of all HRDs in Kenya;
  • Recognize innovation in engaging with human rights work


  • Nomination:

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, also referred to as Defenders Coalition) and other partners. This call outlines the criteria for eligibility for nomination. Both individual HRDs and groups/organizations can be nominated in the three categories.

  • Shortlisting:

A panel comprised of missions and organizations involved in the planning of the HRD Awards then shortlists five individuals/groups per category within the set-out guidelines for shortlisting candidates.

  • Verification:

The panel verifies the HRD’s human rights work through field visits, and interviews with the nominators, the nominees and their references.

  • Selection:

The Judging Panel, which comprises of eminent individuals in the human rights sector, makes a final decision, from the names submitted, on the recipient of the three awards and the runner up.

  • Award ceremony:

Will be held on the 27th of November 2020 in the presence of CSOs, the UN, the government, selected HRDs, representatives from the international missions, and the media who will cover the event.


The following will be taken into consideration:

  • Is the HRD or the group grassroots based?
  • Demonstrable impact of the HRD’s or the group’s human rights work to the community
  • The role of the HRD or the group in promoting human rights, especially the rights of marginalized and vulnerable groups
  • ‘Civil courage’ of the HRD or the group in human rights work
  • Demonstrated leadership, innovation and creativity in the human rights work of the HRD/the group
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