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Written on: Saturday October 6th, 2012

A journal entry from: Clea's Kenya

I figure I should probably talk about work in one of these posts, since it is what occupies most of my time here. I'm "employed" by the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists (it's a little complicated since I'm paid from Canada and so technically volunteering here). The ICJ is present in numerous countries, including Canada, although the one I'm at is the only national chapter in Africa. Its mission is to promote and protect human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.


I have been working mostly in the Access to Justice section, which is concerned with, obviously, improving access to justice in Kenya. This involves issues that I think are present pretty much everywhere, like courts being way too expensive for most people and very slow. However, Kenya is also involved in some interesting initiatives that are specific to the country. After the last round of elections in 2007, there were outbreaks of violence across the country. In the aftermath, Kenya adopted a new constitution, and the ICJ is involved in trying to get it properly implemented.


On a day to day basis, I have attended a lot of meetings (often in very fancy hotels with very nice lunches) dealing with everything from a court case trying to get compensation for people who were displaced in the election violence, to drafting new election rules, to an initiative to increase awareness about sexual and gender based violence. I am also creating materials for the public on judicial reforms and doing research on how judges are removed in different jurisdictions. I've been to court for the internally displaced people case (the elevators work way better than in Ottawa!). And I've also gotten to travel to a rather dusty place called Kitui for research about what people who frequently use the courts (like the police or children's workers) would like to change. So far anyways it's all been very interesting.