Mental Health Matters

It is bright and beautiful outside when a young lady walks in looking a little unsure of herself. She introduces herself as Claudine, a Congolese who has come to Kituo to seek help because she feels stressed. There is this sad look in her eyes, beetroot red, sleep deprivation or excessive crying, I cannot tell. In a small voice she says she has been referred to Kituo Cha Sheria by a neighbor who had received counseling here before. I usher her into our office.

This is the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services Department (MHPSS)            in case you are wondering, and it is a hub of mental wellbeing. We carry out various activities to help refugees address their psychological problems, and in this case, we are focusing on mind and body wellbeing. I fetch my notebook and pen and sit close to a now relaxed Claudine, ready to listen to her story. Her eyes look tired, she still has a slight slouch to her back but I can tell from the determined look on her face that she is ready to face this.

“I am 28 years old and have been living in Kenya for the past three years. I have been stressed a lot, so I decided to approach you for help. I cannot eat or sleep well. My husband and I ran away from Congo due to outbreaks of violence between different ethnic groups. We were beaten up and I was raped several times. My husband was tortured. We managed to escape and came to Kenya to start a new life. But it is not easy. I am not able to provide for my two children born in Kenya for lack of money, I have troubles sleeping at night because I dream of the things we passed through while in Congo. I keep thinking about it all the time, and I do not feel like going out to meet people. Most times I am afraid to walk alone, fearing that someone might attack me. At times I feel bitter and upset about those people and wish I could take revenge. My body is getting weaker by the day, with constant headaches and joint pains which are more intense when I think a lot. I really don’t know what to do, I wish I could forget everything but it seems impossible.”

All through her narration, I see the pain she feels and the anger welling from within her. I empathize with her and decide to walk her through the journey to recovery to have a success story. As I register her as a client for individual counseling sessions, I explain to her about our mind and body wellbeing group, which focuses on trauma-informed yoga to boost trauma recovery by learning ways to calm down or self-regulate emotions. This is where I spark her interest! So, the mind and body wellbeing support group brings together ten women from the same community who have gone through various traumatic situations.

We take them through an eight-week program with weekly sessions lasting two hours each. The MHPSS team engages a mind and body wellbeing facilitator from Africa Yoga Project (AYP) who takes the women through the sessions. “What is yoga?” Claudine inquires. “Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines. In this case we use it as a modern exercise practice which involves holding stretches as a kind of low-impact physical exercise and is often used for therapeutic purposes. Yoga in this sense occurs in a class and may involve meditation, imagery, breath work and music.”

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Oromo women support group during one of their mind and body well-being yoga sessions at the Kituo FMP office.

The women are first taken through the basic concepts of the interrelation between the biological, psychological and social aspects in our lives, citing examples from common problems they face and how those affect their bodies and social lives. During these yoga sessions they learn how to identify signs of stress and how to deal with them and help others in the community who need them. Through meditation, they can experience deeper rest on both physical and mental levels, allowing them to gain greater awareness. Meditating every day can bring plenty of benefits – you feel more relaxed, have more energy, savor more enjoyable moments and make you better at handling difficult situations. They learn how to take and be in control of their bodies especially during stressful situations, how to engage in calming exercises and gain a state of stability to tackle issues at hand.

On top of that, refugees are able to make social connections with each other, make friends and establish a support system that lasts even after the group sessions are over. Selfcare during and after the exercises is also emphasized to ensure people do not get hurt or overwhelmed by the exercises. .

“After two months of yoga training at Kituo, I feel so much better. I have found new ways of dealing with stressful issues, I am able to stay calm and relax. I can now sleep peacefully all through the night. I do not keep away from people like before. I now have friends I can relate with, and I am glad I came to Kituo. I am now a very happy person and I have the strength even to look for jobs to take care of my family”, Claudine reports.

By Julie,

Psychosocial volunteer (Kituo Cha Sheria)

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No Person can be Illegal

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No Person Can Be Illegal

On the eve of the day the world celebrates to mark the World Refugee Day 2018, President Donald Trump of the United States of America was quoted from his briefing at the White House saying “The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”

These words however appalling and controversial as they sound are the true reflection of how countries for a long period of time have perceived the subject of immigration and refugees.

The narrative has always been, “As a country, we continue to do so much for refugees.” In some worst scenarios, any surge in crime rates or social breakdown is attributed to the existence of refugees in the host country.

One vital question that stands is this, have we ever imagined how much more, given a chance, the refugee would impact on the social and economic developments of the host countries?

The world should move beyond seeing the tag descriptive of a person forced to flee his home due to war, poverty, underdevelopment, environmental degradation, and inequality; and instead focus on the talents and abilities individual refugees posses for the economic and social development of the host country. Before displacements, some refugees were doctors, teachers, scientists, engineers, lawyers, and even people practising art.

Given a chance, the host country would also greatly reduce the burden of hosting the refuges by tapping into the expertise of these displaced persons unlike constricting these persons in camps awaiting aid.

It is important to note that the sharp increase in the outflow of displaced persons is majorly attributed to political feuds. On this particular issue the international community has failed in its responsibility.

UNHCR report indicates that out of 66 million displacements that have happened all over the world, only 500,000 refugees and other displaced persons have returned home. This has been occasioned by persistent absence of security and peace because very few displacement situations have been brought to a definitive conclusion.

It should be each country’s obligation to sustain the protection of the displaced people and refugees while solutions to conflict situations are pursued both within the host country and even in the affected country.

Therefore to achieve a complete reversal of the outflow of refugees, there needs an urgent collective action by the international community to restore security, resolve conflicts and build peace.

#WorldRefugeeDay #WithRefugees #MyNameIsNotARefugee

 

By:

Jack Odiwa, Local Expert-AJS

AGCP-Kituo Cha Sheria

Knowing Your Community Land Rights

Opinion Blog

Recognition, Protection and Registration of Community Land Rights

Community land is land which vests in and is held by communities identified on the basis of ethnicity, culture or similar community of interest under the tenure systems of either; (a) customary (b) freehold (c) leasehold (d) or such other tenure system recognized under a written law.

Every person has the right, either individually or in association with others, to acquire and own property of any description in any part of Kenya, in accordance with Article 40 of the Kenyan Constitution.

Customary land rights, including those of community land, have equal force and effect in law with freehold or leasehold rights acquired through allocation, registration or transfer for example, subject to Article 40 (3) of the Constitution and the Land Act, no interest in, or right over community land may be compulsorily acquired by the State except in accordance with the law, for a public purpose, and upon prompt payment of just compensation to the person or persons, in full or by negotiated settlement.

To register a community land, the Cabinet Secretary of Lands, in consultation with the respective county governments, develop and publish in the Gazette a comprehensive adjudication programme to ensure that the process of documenting, mapping and developing of the inventory of community land is transparent, cost effective and participatory with the members of the community.

The person responsible for the registration of community land is the Community Land Registrar.

The process of registering community land involves the Cabinet Secretary of Lands by a notice in the Gazette; appoint an adjudication officer in respect of every community registration unit to facilitate, in consultation with the respective county governments, the recording of community land claims, demarcation of community land and delineation of boundaries. Upon adjudication, the title relating to community land is issued to the registered community by the Community Land Registrar.

Community land maybe held as; communal land; family or clan land; reserve land; and any other category of land recognized under a written law.

Administration and management of community land

A registered community must have a community assembly which shall consist of all adult members of the community. The community assembly shall elect between seven and fifteen members of the community assembly to constitute the community Land Management Committee for the administration and management of the community land.

Any decision of a registered community to dispose of or otherwise alienate community land is binding if it is supported by at least two thirds of the community assembly, while all other decisions of the registered community shall be by a simple majority of the members present in a meeting.

Nature of community land title

Upon registration of a community land, the community is issued with a Certificate of Title which gives the community the absolute ownership of that land together with all rights and privileges attached to the land.

This certificate is considered by courts as factual evidence that the person named as proprietor of the land is the absolute and indefeasible owner

Conversion of community land

A registered community shall, before the conversion of registered community land into either public, private land or any other category of land, seek and obtain approval from two thirds of the community assembly for instance;

  • Community land may be converted to public land by compulsory acquisition; transfer; or surrender.
  • Community land may be converted to private land through transfer; or allocation by the registered community.
  • Public land may be converted to community land by allocation by the National Land Commission in accordance with the Land Act, 2012 (No. 6 of 2012).
  • Private land may be converted to community land by transfer; surrender; operation of the law in relation to illegally acquired community land; or operation of any other written law.

Special rights and entitlements in the community land

A registered community may upon application and with approval of the members of the community assembly, allocate part of its registered community land to a member or a group of members of the community for exclusive use and occupation for such period as the registered community shall determine.

These occupations may include (a) farming areas; (b) settlement areas; (c) community conservation areas; (d) access and rights of way; (e) cultural and religious sites; (f) urban development; or (g) any other purpose as may be determined by the community, county government or national government for the promotion of public interest.

However, an individual entitlement shall not be superior to community title in any way.

Environment and natural resources management

Natural resources found on community land shall be used and managed sustainably and productively; for the benefit of the whole community including future generations; with transparency and accountability; and on the basis of equitable sharing of accruing benefits among the community members.

Settlement of disputes relating to community land

For purposes of settling disputes and conflicts involving community land, registered communities are encouraged to use alternative methods of dispute resolution mechanisms including traditional dispute and conflict resolution mechanisms and internal dispute resolution mechanisms set out in the respective community by-laws.

The methodologies used in dispute resolution over community land include,

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Judicial proceedings

 

By:

Jack Odiwa, Local Expert-AJS

AGCP-Kituo Cha Sheria

 

Success Story- Mary Runyangi Muchafu

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Mary Runyangi Muchafu receiving her settlement at Kituo Head office, Nairobi.

Mary Runyangi Muchafu is a middle-aged Kenyan woman who came to Nairobi over a decade in pursuit of gainful employment. Mary is an honest and hardworking Kenyan who worked as a domestic worker in the leafy suburb of Lavington, Nairobi while living in Kawangware. The mother of five (5) was contracted on the 22nd November, 2016 and performed her duties with loyalty and diligence until 6th December, 2017 when her employer; one Mariama Sieh unfairly fired her.

Mary was dismissed in the most unfair manner without any notice being given to her or receiving her terminal dues. Lost and confused on how to handle this most unfair predicament; Mary was contemplating taking her school going children back to their rural home as her prospects of supporting them in her current state looked grim.

Fortunately, when she narrated her story to a friend in the neighbourhood who also works as a security guard in the suburbs of Nairobi; there was a glimmer of hope. The friend happened to have received pro bono legal representation from Kituo Cha Sheria in a similar matter previously.

Mary had worked for the entire duration of her employment without leave including during public holidays and was instead met with threats of dismissal any time she requested a day off. Mary instead toiled in the Mariama household taking care of 4 children until the day she was dismissed and now was presenting her matter to a Kituo legal officer. Once her case was reviewed and deemed meritorious; a demand letter was immediately served to her former employer clearly stating the employer’s unjustified actions in four points- salary in lieu of notice; annual leave; service pay and compensation for unfair termination according to Kenya’s labour laws.

The employer did not respond to the demand within the stipulated time and instead rubbished Mary’s claim with more threats and scare tactics that she’d instead end up paying the employer.

Kituo’s legal officers acting on mandatory instructions to institute legal proceedings from the client were ready to proceed to court and had duly served the employer when through their legal counsel they offered to settle the claim out of Court. The offer being acceptable to our client- Mary Runyangi received a full and final settlement of Ksh. 32,000 in April, 2018.

A very thankful Mary who has since found employment elsewhere was grateful to all Kituo officers who assisted her in her pursuit of justice saying, “Nimesaidika! Asanteni sana”, she said.

RCKM

Kituo Cha Sheria

Success Story- Njoki Nguga

succes-storyKibera Community Justice Center

Serving the most vulnerable persons in the society…

Njoki Nguga, a 67 years old granny from Kibra, Nairobi has a reason to smile after her name got approved as a beneficiary of the Kenyan government’s monthly stipend funds for the elderly.

Njoki, a widow who is staying with two orphaned grandchildren, spends sleepless nights trying to provide for the kids who are all in school. She said for several years she has not benefited from the funds despite her attaining and even surpassing the recommended age (65).  Her National Identification Card had an error, indicating that she was born in 1952 reducing her age by two years by the time she attained 65 years the recommended age for benefiting from older person’s funds, a programme run by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development in Kenya. The ministry had failed to enroll her because of this.

Njoki said she was referred to the Kibera Community Justice Centre by a friend who had once gotten assistance at the justice centre. She approached the justice center seeking legal advice regarding her problem. She specifically wanted the paralegals assist her correct the error that has made her miss the monthly stipend that she ought to be getting.

“I had made several attempts to government offices including the DC’s and the Chief’s offices but my efforts bore no fruits. I therefore decided to seek for assistance from the justice center as advised by a friend”, said Njoki.

Ezekiel Njenga, certified Paralegal at Kibera Community Justice Center intervened. He advised the client to first go for age assessment at Mbagathi Hospital and wrote a letter addressed to the relevant institution on behalf of the client recommending for change in the year of birth in the client’s national Identification Card (ID).

The requested process was successful and the client was issued with a new ID card and is currently registered and earning the stipend for the elderly thanks to the work of the community paralegal.

RCKM

Kituo Cha Sheria

 

Reparations NOW: Highlighting the Right to Truth

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Reparations NOW: Highlighting the Right to Truth

On 24th March 2018, the world marked International Day for the Right to Truth concerning gross human rights violations and for the dignity of victims. Civil society organizations under the umbrella network of the Kenya Transitional Justice Network (KTJN), together with the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, the Attorney General’s office and development partners convened together with victims and survivors of past human rights violations in Kenya post independence to date.

The day provided an opportunity for all stakeholders to promote national dialogue on the reparations agenda and draw the society to the truth behind human rights violations that have been committed over the years and what Kenyans need to do as a nation to promote, protect and fulfill human rights.

The right to the truth here in Kenya is primarily enshrined through Article 35 of the Constitution on access to information. Other critical articles include Article 47 on fair administrative action, Article 49 on the right of arrested persons and Article 50 on fair hearing. The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Report (TJRC) remains one of the most decisive efforts in achieving the right to truth. Through the TJRC Report, the right to the truth has been invoked in light of the thousands of cases of extra judicial executions, the hundreds of enforced disappearances, victims of torture who remain unrepaired in places like Mount Elgon in Western Kenya, victims of sexual violence from various epochs particularly at the hands of security forces.

The right to the truth implies knowing the full and complete truth as to events that transpired, their specific circumstances, the identities of those who participated (and directed), knowing the circumstances those violations took place and why? To understand this, one only has to look at the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Report (TJRC Report) Volume 2A pages 221 to 366, in a bid to uncover the truth.

Unfortunately, many of the victims and survivors of gross human rights violations do not know the truth behind the violations done to them. Over 1,000 women who were raped in the 2007/2008 post election violence period and subsequent general elections by state security officers are among the many survivors seeking justice and compensation against these sexual violations.

In 2017, KTJN through the leadership of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) presented a policy proposal for reparations of historical injustices to the Office of the Attorney General. The policy proposal provides a theoretical framework and guidelines for operationalization of the Reparations for Historical Injustices Fund subsequently established by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his March, 2015 State of the Nation Address.

The purpose of the Reparations for Historical Injustice Fund is to be the institutional framework for implementation of a program that provides reparations to victims of human rights violations committed or condoned by the State between 12th December 1963 and 28th February 2008.  The funds will also help in restoring the dignity of victims through acknowledging the wrongdoing, the harm suffered and the state responsibility to promote, protect and fulfill human rights.

The main objective of the policy is to guide implementation of a comprehensive reparations program that provides adequate, effective, accessible and prompt reparation that is; to the greatest extent possible, proportional to the gravity of the violation and the harm suffered, while integrating existing structures and programs to ensure efficient, transparent and accountable delivery of services to victims and the broader Kenyan public.

Implement the reparations fund…

Survivors of past human rights violations are therefore, urging the government to fast track the adoption and implementation of the reparations fund. Implementation of the fund will assist in alleviating the pain and suffering the survivors have endured over the years.

Faith Ochieng’

Program Manager

AGCP- Kituo Cha Sheria.

 

Know your Labour Rights Vlogs Series

Are you employed or looking for employment? Then this is for you!

All you need to know about your labour rights!

You may watch your labour rights explained Haki Vlogs Series HERE>>

Termination of Labour

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0EPwe3csqg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5ptiNo_DzU

  • An employer is required to give reason of termination to the worker. If the employer fails to do this, the termination will be considered unfair.
  • Before terminating the employment of an employee or summarily dismissing an employee, the employer should hear and consider any explanations or reasons which the employee may give.

Reasons for Termination

For specific reasons

  • The employee is incapable of performing the job
  •  After receiving a final warning letter, the employee continues with misconduct or indiscipline
  • The employee suffers from prolonged illness that makes him/her unable to perform his/her normal duties

Summary Dismissal

An employee may be summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. Gross misconduct includes:

  • Absence from the workplace without permission
  • Being drunk at the workplace
  • Neglecting to perform any assigned work
  • Use of abusive language or behaviour in the workplace
  • Failing to obey a lawful and proper command that is within the employee’s scope of work
  • Arrested for a crime that can lands the employee in jail and is not released within 14 days
  • Committing a criminal offense against the employer or his/her property
  • Summary dismissal takes place without a termination notice. It is immediate.

Redundancy

  • This means the loss of employment where the services of an employee are no longer needed
  • Before declaring an employee redundant, the employer must meet the following conditions:

The employer must notify the trade union if the employee belongs to one and the labour office in that area. In the notification, which is given one month before, the employer must include the reasons for the redundancy.

If the employee is not a member of a trade union, the employer notifies the employee personally in writing and the labour officer;

Before declaring an employee redundant, the employer has to consider the work experience, ability, job group and reliability of the employee

  • The employer should give the employee one month notice or one month’s salary in place of notice
  • The employer should pay for the remaining leave days in cash
  • The employer should pay the employee severance pay of 15 days salary for every year worked

Termination Notice

If you are paid daily – either the employer or the employee can terminate the contract at the end of any day without notice.

If you are paid periodically at intervals less than a month e.g every 2 weeks or 3 weeks – either the employer or employee can terminate the contract by giving notice in writing equivalent to the intervals of payment. So if you are paid every 2 weeks, give a 2 week notice in writing of termination of employment.

If you are paid at intervals of one month or exceeding one month – either the employer or employee can give a 28-day notice in writing of termination of employment.

However, if you have a contract that clearly states when your services end or the period needed to give a termination notice for your contract – then you should follow what your contract states.

If an employee who receives notice of termination is not able to understand the notice, the employer should orally explain the notice to the employee in a language the employee understands. The employee should have another employee or union representative of his/her choice present during this explanation.

If an employee or employer terminates a contract without notice, then the following happens:

  • Employer- must pay the employee what he/she would have earned during the notice period. e.g. If you are fired without notice, your employer must pay you one month full salary
  • Employee- if you decide to end your contract without giving notice to your employer – then you will pay your employer what he/she would have paid you during the notice period. e.g. If you leave without notice, you must pay your employer one month full salary

Grievance Procedure and Institutions to approach

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q6Ng9t2A9M

  • If an employee is not a member of a trade union, he/she should present their complaint or grievance to the immediate supervisor.
  • If there is no action taken, the employee should set an appointment with management.
  • If the matter remains unresolved, then the employee should file a complaint at the nearest labour office.
  • However sometimes the employee is forced to go straight to the labour office or the Industrial Court.
  • If an employee has been dismissed unfairly, he /she should present a complaint to a labour office within 3 months of the date of dismissal.
  • The labour officer will give an opportunity to both the employer and employee to give their side of the story and give recommendations on how to settle the dispute.
  • The employee also has a right to go to the Industrial Court to present his complaint. If the complaint is because of a contractual agreement, the complaint should be filed in court within 6 years. If it is because of injury at work, then the complaint should be filed within 3 years.
  • The employee must be able to show that he/she was unfairly terminated and the employer must be able to show the justification for termination.
  • An employee under probation or who has been summarily dismissed while under probation cannot complain at the labour office or at the Industrial Court.

NOTE: At the Industrial Court you do not need an advocate to represent you.  You can be represented by a trade union representative or you can appear in person ( self-represent). You can also hire an advocate if you want.

Remedies for wrongful dismissal and unfair termination

  • Where there was no notice given, the employee is entitled to the salary he/she would have earned had he/she been given notice
  • Where an employee is dismissed before the contract is over and the contract was such that the employee gets paid at the end of the contract and after completing his/her services, the employee is entitled to:-
  1. payment for work done until the time he/she was dismissed
  2. payment for losses incurred as a result of the dismissal
  • payment for losses arising between the date of dismissal and the date of expiry of the notice period
  1. money he/she would have earned had notice been given

Where an employee is unfairly dismissed, he/she may:

  1. be reinstated and continues to work like as if he/she was never dismissed
  2. not be returned to his/her original position but may be given similar or suitable work and be paid the same wages (re-engaged)

Before any recommendations are given, the labour officer or Industrial Court consider the following:

  • the wishes of the employee
  • the circumstances in which the termination took place, including if the employee caused or contributed to the termination
  • if it is practical for the employee to be reinstated or re-engaged
  • the employee’s length of service with the employer
  • the reasonable expectation of the employee as to the length of time for which his/her employment might have continued had he or she not been terminated.
  • the opportunities available to the employee for securing similar or suitable employment with another employer
  • the value of any severance payable by law
  • the right of the employee to claim for any unpaid wages or expenses
  • any expenses reasonably incurred by the employee as a consequence of the termination
  • any conduct of the employee which to any extent caused or contributed to the termination
  •  any compensation, including ex gratia payment paid by the employer and received by the employee.

Sexual Harassment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wHdBmnGdXU

An employee is sexually harassed if the employer or a representative of that employer or a co-worker:-

(a) directly or indirectly requests that employee for sexual intercourse, sexual contact or any other form of sexual activity.

The sexual request may contain:

  • promise of preferential treatment in employment e.g if you have sex with me, I will give you a promotion
  • Threat of harmful or negative treatment in employment e.g if you do not let me touch your buttocks, I will ensure that you do not go on leave or I will make your life here a living hell
  • Threat about the present or future employment status of the employee e.g if you do not kiss me now, I will fire you
  • uses language whether written or spoken of a sexual nature
  • shows physical behaviour of a sexual nature that is unwelcome or offensive and which affects employment, job performance or job satisfaction.

An employer who employs twenty or more employees should have a sexual harassment policy at the workplace.

Sexual Harassment Policy

This Policy will contain:

  • Definition of sexual Harassment
  • A statement explaining that;
  • every employee is entitled to employment that is free of sexual harassment
  • the employer shall take steps to ensure that no employee is subjected to sexual harassment;
  • the employer shall take disciplinary measures against any person guilty of sexual harassment
  • how complaints of sexual harassment may be brought to the attention of the employer
  • the employer will not disclose the name of the complainant or the circumstances related to the complaint except during investigations or if the employee wants to take disciplinary action

Judgement

Anyone found guilty of sexual harassment will be imprisonment for not less than three years or will have to pay a fine of not less than one hundred thousand shillings or both imprisonment and payment of a fine.

For more information on your labour rights write to info@kituochasheria.or.ke mhaki@kituochasheria.or.ke or SMS 0700777333

Kituo cha Sheria

We Care for Justice