Maina Kiai is the Executive Director of InformAction, based in Nairobi, Kenya. In addition, he currently serves as UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He has spent the last 20 years campaigning for human rights and constitutional reform across the world. He was the founder and Executive Director of the unofficial Kenya Human Rights Commission between 1992-1998, and later the first Chairman of Kenya’s National Human Rights Commission from 2003-2008. In March 2011, he was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association for the UN Human Rights Council.
Trained in law at Nairobi University and Harvard, Maina has spent periods in London as Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme and in the United States as Africa Director of the International Human Rights Law Group. He has held research fellowships at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the TransAfrica Forum in Washington DC.
For several years he wrote a regular column for Nairobi’s Sunday Nation newspaper, and most recently has been involved in a bottom-up strategy of community empowerment using film and holding discussion forums across Kenya based on these films. His most recent film, “Clearing the Air” – working with the NGO InformAction – on the debates around Kenya’s new constitution, was aired five times on national television in Kenya, and personally reached about 300 000 people in public screenings and through dissemination of the DVD.
Kiai was named Jurist of the Year in 2005 by the International Commission of Jurists and is a member of the Management Committee of the African Democracy Forum, the World Movement’s Africa regional network.