Haki na Sheria Initiative (HSI) is a non-governmental organisation based in Garissa, Kenya and it is dedicated to ending the discrimination and promoting the rights of marginalized communities in Northern Kenya.
HSI is focused on sustainability in all its projects. HSI is a local organization that has over the last 10 years empowered the community, leaving the skills with the locals.
Empower marginalized communities to understand, demand and effectively claim their human rights and obligations in pursuit of an equitable society.
A society in Kenya where all marginalized communities live dignified lives free of human rights violations.
Haki na Sheria provides a platform for the promotion of the participation of marginalized communities in governance and reduce human rights violations in the Garissa Region. The organization’s focuses
- on statelessness in the Garissa county, including assisting the individuals in obtaining birth certificates and other relevant government documents and the vetting process;
- environmental justice, addressing the environmental degradation and its impact on the communities and empowering them to assert their rights ensuring the environment is protected and their rights are respected; and
- issues that negatively impact women’s lives, including lack of access to justice, education and gainful employment.
The story of HSI, as told by the founder Yussuf Bashir
Haki na Sheria is a leading human rights organization working in Northern Kenya at the Kenya-Somalia border working to end systemic discrimination in Kenya. It was founded in 2010 in Nairobi by Kenyan Somali law students at the University of Nairobi from Garissa in the run-up to the promulgation of the Kenyan constitution. We saw the opportunity to organize and raise awareness at a crucial moment for our people. The opportunity to redress the history of gross human rights violations our communities had suffered and begin to imagine a just and prosperous future for themselves and their children. We campaigned and the people of Kenya voted overwhelmingly for the constitution.
Flush with confidence, we registered the organization as a Community Based Organisation in Garissa. We made friends in unexpected quarters and our work began to be recognized. People like the late Adam Hussein through OSIEA gave some of us scholarships to attend the East Africa Human Rights Education Programme in Uganda to acquire valuable skills to grow the organization.
We naturally gravitated towards citizenship rights as we all had horror stories of when we tried to acquire our ID cards at eighteen. We experienced treatment as second class citizens by the government on account of our ethnic background. The Kenyan Government bureaucracy has always been keen to remind us of the favor of belonging as Kenyan Somalis. Derogatory terms like “shifta” (bandit) and “refugee” are names we were familiar with. A young Kenyan somali has to be vetted by a security committee at eighteen something other Kenyan communities are unaware of. This vetting has no structure or an appeals mechanism, it is meant to put us in our place.
We established the paralegals programme to give skills to young Somalis to navigate this capricious system. This empowerment of the youth has been at the core of our mission to fight for equality of all Kenyans regardless of ethnicity.
The organization was in 2017 upgraded to a national organization and registered with the NGO coordination Board.
The vision of the founders still guides the organization as the current Executive Director is one of those law students who set up Haki na Sheria.