On December 8, 2016, PBI Kenya together with our partners at the Law Society of Kenya, Amnesty International Kenya and EACHRights, awarded the ECOSOC Pro Bono Lawyer Award 2016 to Allan Maleche, Executive Director of KELIN (Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS).

Mr. Maleche has a track-record of successful litigation for the rights of those infected with HIV and suffering from AIDS and Tuberculosis. An example of Mr. Maleche’s hard work and dedication was demonstrated the day before being awarded with the Pro Bono Award. Mr. Maleche achieved success in his fight for people living with HIV, when, upon KELIN’s and others challenging it, the High Court in Nairobi declared unconstitutional a Presidential Directive seeking to collect names of people living with HIV, including the names of school going children, among others. The directive was found to breach the petitioner’s constitutional rights under Articles 31 and 53(2) which safeguard the right to privacy and best interest of the child respectively (more on this case can be found here).

Equally deserving of their awards as first and second runner-up respectively where Miriam Wachira Wangari and Margaret Njoki Kimani, who both devote considerable amount of time to pro bono legal services and litigation on constitutional and human rights law. Awards were presented by Yash Pal Ghai and Justus Nyang'aya.

At PBI Kenya, we see the importance of lawyers being committed to pro bono work on a daily basis. Since they are often the only source of legal representation available for grassroots human rights defenders.

Therefore we are happy to hear that "The Law Society of Kenya will continue to play its role of protecting and assisting the public in Kenya in matters relating to or ancillary or incidental to the law" as stated by the LSK President, Mr Isaac Okero, at the award ceremony. He was joined by EACHRights CEO Mr. Maragia who emphasized the need to remain vigilant in defending human rights in his speech.

PBI congratulates the three winners and encourages them to keep up their important work. Successful litigation in the field of human rights law is one crucial aspect among others that contributes to changing perceptions, and eventually laws, on human rights and helps create space for human rights defenders.