Gacheke Gachihi is a social justice and human rights defender. Over the last fifteen years he has been involved in community organizing in Kenya, helping to build a grassroots social movement. He is a member of Bunge la Mwananchi (the Peoples Parliament) which is an organic grassroots based social movement. He participated in its formative stages, and is the coordinator for the Mathare Social Justice Center, a community based registered organization in Mathare that conducts campaigns on political accountability and social justice and documents cases of extra-judicial killings and police brutality in low-income areas of East lands of Nairobi.
Gacheke Gachihi is a social justice activist who has been active in the human rights movement in Kenya for over a decade. He is a founding member of Bunge la Mwananchi (‘People’s Parliament’), an organic pro-poor social movement in Kenya historically related to popular social struggles for empowerment and participatory democracy. Since the early 1990s Bunge la Mwananchi has remained focused on this core value of organising to demand social equality and participatory democracy as a prerequisite for sustainable development, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The movement focuses on engaging citizens in public discussions in order to increase participation in democratic processes.
Gacheke is also a community organiser and is involved in establishing community-based resource centres. These centres act aim at locating a social movement in the diverse communities in Kenya in order to forge a nationwide collective identity and bring about social transformation. Gacheke is currently the coordinator of the Mathare Social Justice Centre, a community-based registered organisation in Mathare, an informal settlement in Nairobi. The Mathare Social Justice Centre conducts campaigns on political accountability and social justice. It also documents cases of extrajudicial killings and police brutality in low-income areas of Eastleigh in Nairobi. Among other human rights work, Gacheke previously spent five years as a field officer at the Independent Medico-Legal Unit in Nairobi where he focused on documenting cases of extrajudicial killings and youth torture.
"Extrajudicial Killings are used to terrorise people in the informal settlements to make sure they don’t organise." Gacheke Gachihi
In 2008 he was part of a network of Kenyans providing information to assist with Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston’s reporting on extra-judicial killings in the wake of post-election violence. He also co-founded with other human rights defenders the Unga Revolution, a grassroots movement addressing the right to food and social inequality in Kenya as well as organising the Unga Tax protest, a tax justice campaign demanding a reduction in the cost of living in order to assist the poorest of Kenyan society.
"Now we have voices. We will fight to rescue the democratic process and have an accountable police service" Gacheke Gachihi
PBI Kenya has been working with Gacheke on different occasions and projects since 2013 as part of his work with Bunge la Mwananchi and Mathare Social Justice Centre. In February 2016, PBI UK welcomed Kenyan Human Rights Defender Gacheke Gachihi to London. In Spring 2016 Gacheke was invited to join the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk at The Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York.
We hear from Gacheke and other human rights defenders from the Nairobi's informal settlements about the impact of COVID-19 in Kenya and the role that women and other grassroots human rights defenders across Social Justice Centres in Kenya are playing to support their communities. Millions living in informal settlements depend on them for access to water, sanitation, and healthcare provisions, as the government sits on its hands. We will also discuss the impact of lockdown on police violence, court suspensions, and the wellbeing of human rights defenders.