MSJC’s Civic Charter Campaign

MSJC, under the guidance of our political accountability coordinator Gacheke Gachihi, has been involved in disseminating the Civic Charter through our various campaigns. Most recently, at our October reproductive justice forum, we were able to incorporate and discuss the charter with the community in Huruma. Below are some pictures from this event.

MSJC’s work on the civic charter builds on the outcome of the Global Framework for People’s Participation campaign workshop held in Arusha in early May 2017. Both Gacheke Gachihi and Muchangi Nyanga, co-coordinator of our campaign against extra-judicial executions and police brutality, attended this workshop. In a context of increasingly restricted civic space and violence, MSJC continues to be engaged in disseminating and discussing the Civic Charter in community spaces.

Below is the report Gacheke and Muchangi wrote after attending the campaign workshop in May.

REPORT ON CIVIC CHARTER – THE GLOBAL FRAMEWORK FOR PEOPLES PARTICIPATION CAMPAIGN WORK SHOP HELD AT M.C.T.D.C ARUSHA HELD FROM 9TH MAY 2017-11TH MAY 2017.

The workshop was held in Arusha ,Tanzania and was attended by at least thirteen global human rights defenders and civil society global movement members. The workshop was held for three and half days, from 8th May 2017 – 11th May 2017. It was held at M.C.T.D.C training institute. Who attended from Kenya were Nerima Wako Director of Siasa Place, Gacheke Gachihi coordinator of Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC)and Muchangi Nyaga coordinator of Getto Green grassroots social movement-Kenya and Mathare Social Justice Centre.

After introductions from participants and the conveners who were the International Civil  Society Centre, we started with a theme of THE CIVIC CHARTER -BASIS FOR OUR CAMPAIGN.

The agendas were :
1. My work on civic rights
2. My involvement with the civic charter

Then there was a presentation on developing the civic charter which included a brief history of the civic charter. There were two presentations of the case study of using  the civic charter  as a basis of our various campaigns. One presentation was from a human rights defenders from Nepal known as Prakash Bhattarai , who is the chairperson of an organization known as Center For Social Change.  The second case study was from Gacheke Gachihi of MSJC.All two presentation touched on how they have been using the charter to run their various campaigns in their respectful countries. Gacheke talked about the community dialogues and the campaign against extrajudicial killings that are part of the shrinking space in Kenya.

After lunch, participants were grouped in a cluster of three whereby they were to discuss three questions:

1. What are our plans in the fight for the civic charter ?
2. How would we like to use the civic charter to promote our community struggle in defense of civic space?
3.What kind of global support do we need related to the use of the civic charter ?

Then there was presentation of data gathered in the groups, and what came up was the need for people to understand that the fight  in defense of civic space is from the bottom going up. That is, to create awareness of the charter to the grassroots social movements, create space for civic rights and link the civic charter campaign to a national campaign for the civic space to ensure effective participation. As a tool, the civic charter can amplify the voices of grassroots civil rights activist. This is to be done through organizing local, national and regional campaigns and having a structured follow-up mechanism.

The next group session was organized by countries, so that they could organize their national campaigns through recognizing the problem, problem analysis and then looking for opportunities to make a change. The problem we recognized was that of extrajudicial killings. To make this change, in our group we said that we will target government agencies like the Ministry of Internal Security, the Judiciary, the office of the Inspector General of Police and national human rights organizations including the Kenya National Commision on Human rights (KNHRC).

The International Civil Society Centre was  to take forward the campaign and provide digital ideas for promoting the civic charter internationally. This is so that activists from a range of countries could provide advice on the best approaches for reaching a global community. There was a proposal for  “Civic Charter Day” which would be brainstormed further. Many participants committed to use the day for local/national action for civic space.

We discussed how our community of campaigners can remain in touch following the workshop, and how the centre can assist in facilitating a community of solidarity and shared learning. We decided that:

  • The centre will create an information “hub” for campaigners, which will include training webinars, forums, and newsletters to streamline communication and tools.
  • The centre will research and utilize existing rapid response systems for safety and security of HRDs so that campaigners can call for help if need be. The centre asks those participants who are using any of the existing rapid response systems to provide their advice.
  • The centre will do its due diligence on an online petition platform called ControlShift, which can be used to interlink the local campaigns with the civic charter. During the workshop we conducted a demo and solicited feedback of this online petition platform, which can be used by campaigners to manage and promote their local online and offline campaigns.
  • Participants emphasized their commitment to the civic charter and to  linking up the respective campaigns. They also voiced appreciation of having built a community of support, shared learning and solidarity, which they want to draw upon through the measures listed above. The centre emphasized its commitment to facilitate the needs of the community and will continue to draw on participants’ guidance and advice.


On the last date after a detailed recap from the centre participants, we all agreed to initiate regional civic space campaigns, and in Kenya this was a campaign against the normalization of extrajudicial killings.

MSJC has launched a civic charter campaign with community dialogues in Mathare ,

Report compiled by Gacheke Gachihi (coordinator of the MSJC political accountability campaign) and Muchangi Nyaga (assistant coordinator of extrajudicial executions and police brutality campaign and member of Getto Green Grassroot social movement )

 

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