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Profile of the Chief Justice

Dr. Willy Mutunga is senior counsel and an Advocate of the High Court in Kenya. He has a Bachelors of Law Degree from the University of Nairobi, Masters Degree from the University of Dar es Salaam, and a PhD from York University (Osgoode Hall Law School) in Toronto, Canada.

A committed activist in the pro-democracy movement in Kenya since the 1970s, Dr. Mutunga has worked in a number of prominent human rights organizations throughout the country, and has also been an active member of the university staff trade unions. His work in the pro-democracy movement, notably with the pro-democracy Twelfth of December Movement, made him a target of Moi’s Kenyan African National Union (KANU) party, and he was imprisoned from 1982-83. He has since spoken out enthusiastically on behalf of political prisoners.

Dr. Mutunga was Chair of the Law Society of Kenya from 1993-95. He is also the author of a number of widely published articles on the rights of detainees, the role of NGOs and civil society in democratization, the constitutional rights of Kenya’s nomad pastoralists, and the rights of tenants.

He is a former Board Member of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development in Montreal. He has also been a consultant, and has written for or edited numerous human rights and civil society publications.

Until his appointment as the Chief Justice, Dr. Mutunga was the representative for the Ford Foundation in Nairobi, overseeing all grant making in the Eastern Africa region, mainly focusing on human rights and social justice and protection of women’s rights.