"I like to think that the constitution or the law or even better put, the rule of law is the only option we have as poor people and these provisions also have to be demanded." Steve Kinuthia
Steve Kinuthia is a paralegal coordinator at the Mathare Social Justice Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. For years, the urban settlement of Mathare has suffered various forms of structural violence, including: land grabbing, forced evictions, police abuse and extrajudicial killings, political impunity and other economic, social and psychological violations. This violence has been allowed to go on without any retribution to the community, especially as most of the community continues to live in fear of the consequences of standing up for their rights.
In order to address these issues, a collective of young community members and experienced social justice activists in Mathare came together in 2015, founding the Mathare Social Justice Centre. The MSJC’s mission is to promote social justice in Mathare by means of community engagement and the use of social movement platforms. Since 2015, the MSJC has undertaken a number of organizing activities with all cross-sections of the community and have focused on the documentation of extrajuridical killings.
"So I see understanding of the rule of law and organising towards realising these provisions granted to us as an essential component of a movement building." Steve Kinuthia
"We have legal experts coming on the ground and explaining these provisions to community members in a language that they understand." Steve Kinuthia
"They only kill because it’s intended. So the killing of so many young men is also intended to bring a certain result. And that result is to create fear." Steve Kinuthia
"The work started because we were not realising the guarantees we had under the constitution of Kenya. We lived in a society where we feel completely marginalised and cut off, from even demanding. That demanding a right felt odd." Steve Kinuthia
"I feel like the special rapporteur has given me strength to continue documenting, to continue reporting, and I even know that amongst other HRDs there is also the special rapporteur as a HRD on the frontline coming and saying, I believe in this work and I’m going to be working with you in doing this work." Steve Kinuthia
"Even within our own country, HRDs who thought - well, the model of the justice centres sounds like a good idea, but it’s a huge challenge. I don’t think you guys will achieve it.- But now everybody wants to open a justice centre within their own communities."Steve Kinuthia
"So where we started as four human rights defenders, we were joined by PBI and through that progressive engagement we now have a network of 30 social justice centres in the country." Steve Kinuthia