Farewell to a Kenyan Human Rights Champion

Kenya Prisons Service Human Rights Officers have come together to mourn the loss of their friend and colleague Justus Naderia, who has died at the age of 32 after a short illness. Picture: Justus is in the middle of the picture with glasses on.

Justus was appointed Human Rights Officer at Nairobi West Prison in 2014, although when he first joined the RWI training programme for new HROs, some expressed concern that as a relatively junior officer, he might not have the authority needed for this challenging position. However, the Officer in Charge of Nairobi West insisted that Justus was the right person for the job, because of his no-nonsense approach, reputation for integrity and above all the respect he commanded from his fellow officers, regardless of rank.

And this assessment was proved entirely right, as Justus swiftly rose to become one of the stars of the HRO initiative. Originally trained as an accountant, he was a natural human rights auditor, joining audits conducted by RWI and the Kenya Prisons Service against the Mandela Rules at Kamiti Main Prison and Shikusa Borstal Institution, as well as independent KPS audits at Nairobi Remand, Lang’ata Women and Nyeri Main Prisons. He was a skilled trainer, delivering human rights sessions for his colleagues at Nairobi West, as well as joining fellow HROs for regional trainings in Nairobi and Machakos. Justus was also a regular at HRO Conferences, and a member of the team that developed the original RWI-KPS Human Rights Field Training Manual.

Learning of his untimely passing, fellow HROs have expressed their shock and sadness, but also happy memories, through their social media group. “We have lost a really great HRO,” wrote Tabitha Nyoro from Naivasha Maximum Prison, seconded by Dennis Mungo from Prisons HQ: “We’ve lost a vibrant, young and energetic brother…he shall be dearly missed.” “I really looked up to him,” said Ernest Olonga from Kamiti Main Prison, and Mwana Komora from Nairobi Remand Prison added: “I still remember his jokes and his laughter, the trainings we conducted together…I will miss this humble soul so much.”

Justus is survived by his wife Wilkister and children Brice and Brianna.

RIP Justus, we’ll miss you.

Justus Ojiambo Naderia, Human Rights Officer, 8 January 1985 – 5 June 2017