Promotion of good governance with a particular focus on access to justice for victims of gender-based violence and promotion of social justice, reconciliation and national cohesion

Project description

Title: Project for the Promotion of Good Governance with a Particular Focus on Access to Justice for Victims of Gender-based Violence and the Promotion of Social Justice, Reconciliation and National Cohesion
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Kenya
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs
Overall term: 2005 to 2013


Kenya’s new constitution came into force in August 2010. It is a prerequisite for an independent and stronger judicial system and for long-demanded legal and institutional reform. The prompt and participatory implementation of this new constitution will be crucial to the country’s further development. Kenya also needs to address its existing and historical injustices at a political, social and individual level. These are predominantly based on ethnic discrimination and largely triggered the outbreaks of violence that followed the presidential elections in 2007. The first steps in this direction were taken by the adoption of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Act – KNDRA. As well as facilitating a healing process and the move towards a peaceful and socially just society, this helps to promote national cohesion.

Ensuring the right of access to justice for all population groups, now enshrined in the constitution, is one of the biggest tasks facing the country and a prerequisite for peaceful coexistence. At present, disadvantaged and marginalised population groups, such as the victims of gender-based violence (in most cases women and girls), are still largely excluded. Another precondition for the success of any reform measures that aim to establish democratic structures is the political involvement of civil society organisations and citizens. Widespread corruption obstructs and jeopardises political, economic and social development. Efforts to avoid and combat corruption therefore also have a high priority on the national agenda.

Led by the Ministry of Justice, the Kenyan government is developing a reform mechanism that extends across different institutions and sectors to promote and maintain the rule of law within the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector (GJLOS).


Institutions and mechanisms to promote and maintain the rule of law are strengthened. Key state institutions and non-state actors are enabled to provide effective support to processes in the areas of social justice, reconciliation and cohesion.


GIZ (which was known as GTZ up to January 2011) has been involved in the promotion of good governance in Kenya since November 2005. It was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to support efforts by the Kenyan Ministry of Justice, state commissions, the judiciary and civil society organisations to plan and implement reforms in the legal and judicial system. The project supports the participatory, sector-wide approach to reform adopted by the government, guided by Kenya’s overall sector strategy. It offers political advice and ongoing technical support for the implementation of reform objectives and for measures to address historical injustices (Transitional Justice).

Results achieved so far

Based on a uniform sector policy (Policy Framework Paper), the foundations for a sector-wide reform mechanism have now been laid under the direction of the Ministry of Justice. The main policy and reform priorities for the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector (GJLOS) reform programme have been established in a participatory process. The capacities of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) to monitor the quality of implementation have been greatly strengthened.

Health authorities, the police, the state prosecutor’s office, the judiciary, psychological services and civil society have reached a consensus on systematic collaboration in the area of gender-based violence. A coordination system (Inter-agency Referral and Collaboration System) is in place to promote effective recording, handling and judicial processing with regard to the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act.

Training courses for state prosecutors have been developed to increase the judicial expertise of those involved in criminal prosecutions and prepare them more thoroughly to deal with those cases brought before the courts.

State representatives of the judiciary, the state prosecutor and the police work with representatives of civil society organisations in 'court user committees' to promote the rapid handling of judicial proceedings according to the rule of law and consequently strengthen confidence in the judicial system.

The Anti-Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Commission for National Cohesion and Integration, the Ombudsman and non-state actors have agreed to adopt a uniform approach to admitting and recording grievances from citizens as well as grievances submitted by private sector businesses at municipal//regional level. The remit of each commission has been clarified and legal foundations established in accordance with the new constitution.

Human rights violations committed during the election crisis of 2007/2008 have been analysed and documented in a detailed report by the Human Rights Commission. This contributed to the work of the Waki Commission (named after the Kenyan judge Peter Waki) and formed part of its final report. The report is also an important source for the initial fact-finding work carried out by the International Criminal Court with respect to the violent conflicts.

The scope and mandate of the Commission for National Cohesion and Integration have been extended through a number of operational mechanisms such as the opening of an official grievance office and greater monitoring of provocative speeches/hate sermons.

The expertise and resources of Kenyan human rights organisations have been enhanced to help them respond more effectively to the needs of the population with regard to the latter’s efforts to overcome past and existing injustices. The scope of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to act has also been enhanced. This body carries out investigations for public hearings and also conducts hearings.

By holding public discussion forums throughout the country, the programme has also contributed to public debate on the implementation of the new constitution and the development of national values and ethical principles for national unity, cohesion and integration.