Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award 2013

On 16th December, 2013, EACHRights participated in the nomination of the Pro Bono lawyer of the year award ceremony that took place at the Law Society of Kenya (LSK). This award and ceremony which was supported by Amnesty International Kenya (AIK) seeks recognise lawyers who have made an outstanding Pro-Bono contribution in the field of economic social and cultural rights (ESCR).

The first award sought to acknowledge those that have excelled in the area of litigating on the right to housing and was a joint effort by both the LSK and AIK to mainstream best practices in legal representation on ESCR cases involving slum communities. The facilitation of this award is informed by AIK’s campaign, since 2009, which mainly focused on addressing human rights violations that drive and poverty especially within the context of people living in the slums and informal settlements.

Pro-Bono service provision has played a vital role in bridging the gap between justice and victims of injustice in this country. As a human rights organisation, AIK sees this engagement to celebrate the sacrifices that these lawyers go through in advancing the course of justice, as a conduit for raising human rights awareness and therefore empowering our people, so that they not only better understand their rights but also actively participate and engage in actions for the promotion, defence and realization of human rights.

The nomination committee comprised of:

Chairperson
Mr. Otieno Ombok (Treasurer, Kenya Community Media Network)
Members
Eva Muthuuri (Family Health Kenya) Gilbert Onyango (Regional Director, East African Centre for Human Rights)
Zaphida Chege (Assistant Programme Officer, East African Centre for Human Rights)
Moses Opiyo (Amnesty International, Kenya)
Salome Owuonda (Amnesty International, Kenya)
Collins Odhiambo (Law Society of Kenya)

The Committee posted a call for nominations on the websites of the Law Society of Kenya and Amnesty International Kenya together with an advertisement in one of the dailies. This was followed by the development of a criterion for selecting the winner of the awards. After due consideration, the following individuals were selected winners

Carol Mburugu

Carol was nominated for the work she has done with regard to the promotion of the right to housing particularly in the case of Satrose Ayuma Vs. Kenya Railway Staff Benefit Retirement Scheme and 2 Others where she got a positive judgment that was delivered in August 2013 as the Court enforced the petitioner’s right to housing. The court went ahead to find the evictions that were carried out in 2012 as unconstitutional. She has also filed cases on other economic and social rights such as the right to health.

Elisha Ongoya

Elisha was nominated on account of the work he has done with regard to the right to housing. Over the years, he has filed several cases challenging the violation of the right to housing for indigents. He has also been very instrumental in pushing the boundary with regard to litigating landmark cases in Kenya.

John Chigiti and Tony Mulekyo

John and Tony were nominated jointly for their role in the Muthurwa cases as well where they sought protection for clients who were living in informal settlements. They were able to fight the demolition and/or eviction of the residents. They were also instrumental in assisting in the development of the eviction guidelines.

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