Social transformation through constitutionalism.
To entrench constitutionalism through research, public interest litigation and promoting public participation.
Constitution as an instrument of change.
Katiba Institute (KI) was set up to promote knowledge and understanding of Kenya’s Constitution and constitutionalism, and to defend and facilitate implementation of the Constitution.
Established in 2011, KI works on many areas of the Constitution including issues of leadership and integrity, human rights, devolution, gender, electoral issues, as well as environment, land misappropriation, evictions of indigenous people and other long-term settlers, and protection against illegality and harassment by the police. Its main methods of working are litigation, research and publication, civic education and awareness, mixed with some activism. KI also works to foster the spirit of constitutionalism in the East African region by promoting exchange of academic discourse on constitutional issues and by working with like-minded organizations to secure greater freedoms in the East African Region.
Katiba Institute comprises a diverse team that is passionate about using the Constitution as an instrument of change and is committed to protecting and defending the rule of law. The team operates under three departments: litigation; research, publication, programmes and communication; and finance and administration.
KI’s Board of Directors is highly experienced in various fields and committed to the mission and vision of the organization. The Board is involved in all decisions relating to the KI’s major strategic policies and monitors the implementation of these policies.
KI seeks people’s direct involvement in looking for the realization of the various objects of the Constitution. This is achieved through, among others, public interest litigation, drafting petitions and opinions, including critiques on proposed legislation and governmental policies. Our activities include public interest litigation, research into and publication on various issues/themes in the Constitution, trainings on constitutional issues including for the judiciary, other public sector bodies, the media, civil society organizations and the public. KI comments on policies and proposed legislation, uses the right to access to information to promote citizen engagement in governance and promotes participation of Kenyans in public affairs.
Litigation helps to promote the rule of law, good governance, and social justice; helping courts develop progressive interpretation of the Constitution; promoting high standards of conducting PIL by providing training to advocates and organizations that are regularly involved in PIL work and enhancing collaboration with other organizations/institutions and individuals involved in PIL work. Some of the notable cases undertaken by Katiba Institute in various capacities (as Petitioner, Amicus Curie, Interested Party or counsel for others) are:
- Promoting openness and accountability in use of public funds by the President’s Office by challenging use of public funds to support partisan advertisements during election periods, which action is prohibited by the Elections Offences Act; see Katiba Institute v Presidents Delivery Unit & 3 others  eKLR. *
- Promoting fair administrative action by challenging the validity of a directive issued by the Inspector General of Police in 2015 designating Muhuri and Haki Africa as specified entities under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, without due process; see Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) & another v Inspector-General of Police & 5 others  eKLR*.
- Promoting free and fair elections by reducing avenues for voter manipulation by designation of constituencies as the locations for the final count for presidential elections; see Maina Kiai & 2 others v Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission & 2 others .
- Protecting the constitutional rights of Kenyans to recall elected representatives by challenging provisions of in the Elections Act that significantly limited this right; see Katiba Institute & another v Attorney General & another  eKLR.*
- Assisting a community to protect their right to a clean and healthy environment, livelihood and culture by challenging the process through which the government conceptualized and implemented construction of the first three berths of the Lamu Port and a proposed coal fired power plant at Kwasasi Lamu, both part of the LAPSSET project; see Mohamed Ali Baadi and others v Attorney General & 11 others eKLR (in the High Court)* and Save Lamu & 5 others v National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) & another  eKLR (in the National Environmental Tribunal)*.
- Expanding the scope of the right to life in a challenge to the constitutionality of the imposition of a mandatory death penalty for certain offences; see Francis Karioko Muruatetu & another v Republic  eKLR.*
- Promoting accountability and openness in the work of the National Intelligence Service by challenging the non-operationalization of the complaints and oversight authority provided for under Section 66 of the National Intelligence Service Act; see Katiba Institute v Attorney General & 3 others; Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (Interested Party)  eKLR.*
* indicates that the case was successful in the sense that it produced a positive result for the position that KI took, or for the Constitution generally, at least partially.
KI undertakes research on topical constitutional issues, especially for purposes of enriching the constitutional implementation process but also as a means of fostering a culture of constitutional research in Kenya. Through this strategy, KI provides well researched, relevant, accurate and thought-out opinions and information on technical issues that relate to the Constitution. Some of our publications include: Participation of ethnic minorities and marginalised communities in political and other governance processes; A Handbook on the Access to Information Act, 2016;
A Guide on the Basics of Environmental Impact Assessments in Kenya; 101 Things You Wanted To Know About The Police But Were Too Afraid To Ask; Katiba 2010: Achievements and Challenges; Fair Administrative Action under Article 47 of the Constitution: A guide for the Administrator; Ethnicity , Nationhood and Pluralism: Kenyan perspective; Kenya’s Constitution: An Instrument of Change (2011, 2nd edition imminent); National Values and Principles of the Constitution and Understanding Devolution. (Visit our website to access the books www.katibainstitute.org )
Katiba Institute regularly makes use of Article 35 of the Constitution on Access to Information and the Access to Information Act, 2016, to give effect to the constitutional principles of transparency, accountability and freedom of expression. It has been shown that transparency in government activities minimizes incidences of illegalities and corruption and empowers the public to hold their government to account. Notable Access to Information requests include:
Appointment of Members of Boards of State Corporations and Agencies; Judicial Service Commission recruitment of Chief Justice and Deputy CJ, EACC Report on Mileage Claims by MPs, the construction of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – Westlands expressway, the status of gazettement of the Kilifi Maternal Newborn and Child Health Act, 2016; and the resources used for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). Sometimes the information obtained has been used in litigation; if adequate response to the request is not received we will usually appeal to the Commission on Administrative Justice or go to court.
KI’s philosophy is hinged on the full implementation of the Constitution and the establishment of a culture of constitutionalism in Kenya’s society. KI believes that proper implementation of the Constitution would solve many of Kenya’s challenges such as corruption, tribalism, state-sponsored violence, and the rich-poor disparity, leading to greater rule of law and respect for human rights, more transparent and accountable leadership, good governance and eventually a more just society.
Katiba Institute conducts various civic education activities across the country with the aim of informing and educating the public on key provisions of the Constitution including rights, citizenship and leadership and Integrity.Through this strategy, KI envisages a citizenry that can participate in policy-making processes at both the national and county levels. KI works closely with civil society organisations and government bodies, including independent commissions and the judiciary, to carry out this activity.
KI pays special attention on how devolved governance can unlock the development and service delivery in accordance with constitutional objectives on devolution and input on laws like the Access to Information Act, responding to opportunities for public participation.