Human rights defender
Wanjiku is a Human Rights Defender from Kenya who has worked on several projects that relate to indigenous rights in the country. She works for a grassroots organisation which advocates for the indigenous rights of over 3000 members. Currently her area of work is mainly community and indigenous rights in natural resources especially forests. She is further addressing the criminalisation of human rights defenders. Lately, she has been leading advocacy campaigns against illegal logging around Mount Kenya. Her organisation highlighted the involvement of politicians in those illegal activities. She is also a member of a coalition of activists and organisations whose work focuses on strengthening the capacity of human rights defenders in the region.
Human rights violations in Kenya
In Kenya, Human Rights Defenders continue to be subjected to threats, arbitrary arrests and deadly violence, creating an very harsh working environment for them. There is currently no policy or legal framework that would protect any Human Rights Defender. In fact, criminalisation of defenders is now being used to stifle their work, as happened in Wanjiku’s case. Land and the extractive industry are extremely emotive topics in Kenya, as huge amounts of money are at stake. The interests of powerful stakeholders often come against those of the local populations and Human Rights Defenders siding with indigenous communities are particularly exposed to any form of intimidation and harassment.
Threats and harassment
As a Human Rights Defender Wanjiku has faced many threats. She faces persecution because she is perceived as the unshakeable mind behind the action against illegal logging around Mount Kenya. In 2015 she was attacked abducted and detained for two days which led her to quit her human rights work. While she courageously resumed her work, she still suffers from trauma.