Gibson Kamau Kuria

Gibson Kamau Kuria was once detained in a maximum-security prison for nearly a year.

His crime? Representing and defending Wanyiri Kihoro, a former political prisoner who himself had been detained and abused in a torture chamber.

Selfless courage has always characterized Kuria, a leading human rights attorney who has spent his professional life striving for constitutional and legal reforms, the elimination of corruption, and an end to human rights abuses in Kenya. In 1987, the year he was imprisoned, the Kenyan government confiscated his passport in a bid to silence him. When he received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award the following year, the government refused to return his passport, preventing him from accepting the award in person.

The government’s attempts to muzzle Kuria have proven futile, however. Throughout his career, he has taught law, published widely on constitutional and human rights, and served as secretary general, vice-chairman, and eventually chairman of the East Africa Law Society. When Kenya’s authoritarian rule collapsed in 2002, he established the International Centre for Constitutional Research and Governance, a nonprofit for the study of democratization, constitutionalism, and human rights protection, helping to ensure that Kenya’s hard-won gains are secured for generations to come.