The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) was formed by five Kenyans while in exile .The five Kenyans included Prof Makau Mutua, Mr Maina Kiai, Dr Willy Mutunga, Hon Kiraitu Murungi and Prof Peter Kareithi, they formed the commission and registered it in Washington DC in 1991. One of the founders was dispatched to Kenya to operate from the offices of Kuria, Ringera and Murungi Advocates. The commission was registered in Kenya in January 1994 with a vision of securing ‘Human rights states and societies KHRC was later hosted by the Kituo cha Sheria before moving to South B Estate, and to its current location on Gitanga Road.
Between 1992 and 1997, KHRC focused on monitoring, documenting and publicizing human rights violations. It applied a direct attack on political despotism. Through direct action protests and support to victims and survivors of violations, the organisation established itself as an advocate for civil and political rights in Kenya, by linking human rights struggles with the need for reforms in political leadership and institutions.
From 1998 to 2003, KHRC expanded its advocacy strategy to include social and economic rights in order to attack economic despotism. This resulted to a radical shift in approach that led us to the commission developing capabilities of those affected by human rights problems to advocate for their rights. It invested in community-based Human Rights Education (HRE) and shifted its advocacy approach from ‘reactive, one-off’ activism to more nuanced processes, participation of those affected by specific human rights violations and targeted reforms at policy and legislative levels. The commission developed its first strategic plan for the period 199-2003.
The 2003 to 2007 Strategic Plan focused on strategies and actions aimed at enhancing community-driven human rights advocacy by building the capacities of citizens to deal with their immediate human rights concerns as well as engage in strategic actions to transform structures responsible for human rights violations.
From 2008 to 2012, KHRC expanded the impact of its work to play an active role in procuring citizen-led reforms towards a more just, democratic and human rights-respecting Kenyan society. In 2010, KHRC was key to the constitutional reform movement, which was people centred and resulted in the Constitution of Kenya (2010) one of the hallmarks of which is a strong Bill of Rights.
Between 2013-2015, KHRC in June 2013, through its work in partnership with the MAU MAU War Veterans’ Association, the British Government made a statement of regret for the torture suffered during the independence struggle in Kenya; entered into a settlement for over 5,000 victims of torture; and setting up a memorial in honour of victims of torture.