PORTRAIT: Dr. Willy Munyoki Mutunga

Dr. Willy Mutunga

HIGHLIGHT: Former chief justice of Kenya, Commonwealth special envoy to the Maldives, reform activist, intellectual


Retired Chief Justice, Dr Willy Mutunga was born in Kitui on June 16, 1947. He attended Kitui School for his Kenya Certificate of Education exams whereby he was the first student to attain an ‘A’ grade in all subjects. He received a Bachelor’s degree in law in the 1970s, and a Master of Laws from the University of Dar es Salaam.

He went into exile in Canada in 1983 after being arrested for his activism. In the late 1980s, Dr Mutunga received his Doctorate of Laws from the Osgode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto. He helped launch the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) to further the cause for socio economic justice.

When Kenya returned to multi-party democracy in 1991, Mutunga and other exiles returned to Kenya which led to the KHRC relocating back to Kenya and being registered in 1994. Between 1993 and 1995 he was the Chair of the Law of Society. He was also part of the team that helped form the National Alliance Party of Rainbow Coalition (NARC). Because he did not want to join active politics, his relationship with the administration become frosty.

He retired in June 2016, a year before his due date, and soon after accepted a position as the Commonwealth Special Envoy to the Maldives. 


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