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Justice Nixon Sifuna receives the Independent Recourse Mechanism Accountability in Action Award

The Judiciary > Latest News  > Justice Nixon Sifuna receives the Independent Recourse Mechanism Accountability in Action Award

Justice Nixon Sifuna receives the Independent Recourse Mechanism Accountability in Action Award

High Court Judge Prof. Justice Nixon Sifuna receives the Independent Recourse Mechanism (IRM) Accountability in Action Award from the African Finance Development Bank (AfDB) in Nairobi. Justice Prof Nixon Sifuna is a joint winner of the 2022 Award for public interest litigation.

Justice Nixon Sifuna receives the Independent Recourse Mechanism Accountability in Action Award

In a journal titled Honoring two accountability champions published in June 2023 by the World Bank on its website, the Independent Recourse Mechanism (IRM) presented its inaugural “Accountability in Action” Awards to recipient stakeholders in Kenya and Burundi. The Journal author Rabi Thapa reports that when environmental lawyer Nixon Sifuna, now judge of the High Court of Kenya began representing more than 500 people affected by an African Finance Development Bank (AfDB) project in Kenya as part of a compliance review by the Independent Recourse Mechanism, it was important to him to first get to know them well.

The journal reports that Justice Prof Sifuna integrated with the community he was representing sharing meals with them and becoming part of their daily lives. Justice Prof Sifuna explained that in his quest for public interest litigation, he had to feel the same as those he was representing.

The Independent Recourse Mechanism (IRM) announced that Justice Prof Nixon Sifuna and Régis Mpawaneyo, Director of the Roads Agency of Burundi, were the joint winners of the 2022 Accountability in Action Award. In Kenya, community members opposed to the Kapenguria-Makutano Towns Sewerage Project selected Justice Prof Nixon Sifuna, then an environmental lawyer to represent them in the complaint-handling process because of his specific experience in environmental litigation.

 

While complainants may represent themselves, sometimes project-affected people prefer to have the help of an NGO or a trusted person in the community.

Justice Prof Sifuna said he did a lot of public interest environmental litigation and that the case was referred to him by a client who told the community that they needed a lawyer who had passion for the public interest and also had an environmental background.

 

Justice Prof Sifuna steered the community toward registering a complaint with the IRM, then shepherded them through the process of voicing their concerns about the sewerage project. Ultimately, the IRM found that the AfDB was not in compliance with some aspects of its social and environmental policies, which contributed to the eventual relocation of the project.

 

This year, the IRM’s Stakeholder Advisory Council, which was responsible for making the final selection, recommended the two winners, Justice Prof Nixon Sifuna from Kenya and Régis Mpawaneyo from Burundi after receiving a number of nominations from different parts of Africa, which reflected a growing awareness of accountability.

The Stakeholder Advisory Council consists of nine members from public, private, and non-profit sectors, all of whom have extensive backgrounds in accountability, oversee the selection process. Justice Prof Sifuna was among those who exemplified accountability, transparency, fairness in what they do. The Council also looked at the track record of nominees, considering more recent, specific contributions alongside longer-term involvement in accountability.

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