Former Commissioner, Jedidah Wakonyo Waruhiu is the 2020 Jurist of the Year.
Wakonyo an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya was recognised by the Kenyan Section of International Jurists (ICJ) for her work in building the capacity of paralegals in the country.
The Jurist;’s organisation said It holds Jedidah with pride, joy, and dignity and, most of all, with an appreciation for her commitment to advancement, the rule of law, and human rights in Kenya.
“The 2020 Jurist of the year has been praised by her peers, colleagues, partners, friends, ICJ Kenya fraternity. Our Jurist footprints have also been recognized locally, regionally, and internationally for promoting access to justice initiatives and dedication to upholding justice and the rule of law,” ICJ Kenya said in their citation recognising her work.
“My greatest victory was when Kenya became the first country, not only in Africa but in the world, to recognise intersex during the census,” said Jedidah Waruhiu in her acceptance speech. “It is the first time I have been cited. I am so humbled. It is a privilege to honoured for my service.”
Jedidah was admitted to the University of Nairobi to study law, where she later became the Secretary-General of the Kenya Law Students Society (KLSS). It was while a student leader that her flame and passion for defending human rights became evident. She fearlessly defended fellow students against unlawful harassment and detention by the police over various issues, including protests.
ICJ Kenya recognises Jedidah’s extensive experience and concern for the vulnerable and the marginalised manifested at the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights where she was a Commissioner, especially those in conflict with the law or needing care and protection. She took the lead in advancing the rights of violent extremism victims and persons in penal institutions.
Nationally, Jedidah is recognised in the advancement of penal, policing, and judicial reforms, focusing on legal aid, refugees, paralegal approach, and intersex. She was recently appointed as the Chairperson of the Intersex Persons Implementation Committee (IPICC) under the Attorney General’s Office.
Regionally, our Jurist is known for her work in access to justice in prisons within the East African Community (EAC and Great Lakes), having been a member of the National Human Rights Institutions and Policing Working Groups. She assisted and prepared intersex persons in their dialogue with the African Human Rights Commission and has had various speaking engagements in workshops.
The award was introduced in 1993, primarily to commemorate the International Human Rights Day that is celebrated every 10th December. It acknowledges and honors the contributions of an exceptional Jurist who has worked selflessly and courageously towards the promotion and protection of human rights, justice, the rule of law, and good governance in Kenya in tandem with the vision and mission of ICJ Kenya.