By Irene Gaitirira
Published July 5, 2016
Thirty-four human rights organisations have asked Kenyan authorities to stop extra-judicial killing in the East African country.
The rights organisations have further appealed to Kenya’s international partners–in particular Sweden, the UK and USA–that are currently providing financial support to the Kenya police units implicated in extrajudicial killing, to urge Kenyan authorities to ensure effective investigations into the killing and prosecution of those responsible as “Supporting Kenyan security agencies without insisting on accountability for human rights violations makes donor countries complicit in those violations.”
“Extrajudicial killings are a chilling reminder that the hard-won right to seek justice for human rights violations is under renewed attack,” says Lynne Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
This follows the abduction, killing and dumping of bodies of three people in a river at the end of June 2016.The three victims are a human rights lawyer, his client and the driver of the taxi they rode in to court in Mavoko near the capital, Nairobi.
The bodies of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda, a motorcycle taxi rider, and Joseph Muiruri, a taxi driver,were recovered from a river 73 kilometres northeast of Nairobi a week after they were reported as missing; reports suggest that Administration Police officers were involved.
“The Independent Policing Oversight Authority must initiate and lead prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into the abduction, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution of these three people with a view to bringing criminal charges against all those reasonably suspected of responsibility,” Wanyeki says.
The bodies of Kimani, who was employed by International Justice Mission, a Christian legal aid charity, his client Mwenda, and taxi driver Muiruri were recovered on June 30, 2016 from Ol-Donyo Sabuk River in Machakos County, eastern Kenya, a week after the three went missing in circumstances suggesting they were victims of enforced disappearance. Initial reports immediately suggested that AP officers, one of whom Mwenda was defending himself against in court that day, may have abducted them.
The three were last seen as they left Mavoko Law Courts, in Machakos County, on June 23, 2016 where they had attended a hearing of a traffic case against Mwenda. Police officers from Syokimau AP Camp preferred traffic charges against Mwenda in December 2015, months after he had lodged a complaint with IPOA against a senior officer at the camp who had illegally shot him in April 2015 as he dismounted a motorcycle after the officers had waved him down to stop. Human rights organisations in Kenya have evidence indicating the three men were briefly held at Syokimau AP Camp soon after they were abducted. The men’s whereabouts after that remained unknown until their bodies were recovered seven days later.
“That these killings are coming before numerous similar allegations in other parts of the country have been adequately investigated is a matter of serious concern of the willingness of the Kenyan authorities to stem cases of police killings,” says Henry Maina, regional director at Article 19, Eastern Africa. “President Uhuru Kenyatta must take decisive steps to assure Kenyans and the international community that the government is serious about addressing police killing.”
“A transparent process of investigating and prosecuting those responsible is what is now needed to reassure shocked Kenyans of their safety and restore their faith in the national police,” says Kamau Ngugi, National Coordinator at Kenya’s National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders. “That a lawyer working for an international organisation and his client could be abducted and disappeared in broad-day light only to be found dead is a matter that cannot be taken lightly.”
George Kegoro, Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, says “The killing of these three young Kenyans in cold blood should concern President Uhuru Kenyatta. The head of state must immediately institute a full judicial commission of inquiry into the appropriation and misuse of the institution of the police and its resources for personal and criminal ends including, as in this case, extrajudicial killings.”