Kenya: Extrajudicial killing of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, together with his client and their taxi driver

Urgent Appeal

KEN 001 / 0716 / OBS 061
Abduction / Enforced disappearance /
Torture / Extrajudicial killing
July 14, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kenya.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the extrajudicial killing of human rights lawyer Mr. Willie Kimani, together with his client Mr. Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver, Mr. Joseph Muiruri. Mr. Kimani, a human rights lawyer based in Nairobi, worked with the internationally known organization International Justice Mission (IJM) [1], was a board member of Right Promotion Protection (RPP), and was affiliated with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

According to the information received, on, July 1st, 2016, the bodies of the three men were recovered from the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River in Machakos Country, 73km northeast of Nairobi. They had been missing since June 23, 2016, at around 12 pm, as they were traveling home after filing a complaint against a police officer in a corruption case.

The post-mortem report into the deaths of Messrs. Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda, and Joseph Muiruri showed that they were brutally beaten and tortured before being killed. The pathologist found that human rights lawyer Mr. Kimani suffered from a skull fracture after being repeatedly hit in the head with a heavy object. The taxi driver, Mr. Muiruri, also had injuries to his head and appeared to have been strangled. The client, Mr. Mwenda, appears to have suffered the most with injuries to his head, neck and chest. He also suffered from a skull fracture and had blood in his chest.

On July 2, 2016, Inspector-General of Police Jospeh Boinett confirmed that three AP officers, Frederick Leliman, Stephen Chebulet and Sylvia Wanjikuwere being held in relation to the killings. They appeared in court on Monday, July 4, 2016, where the judge ordered that they be held in custody for two weeks until investigations are carried out. The same day, hundreds of Kenyan human rights defenders launched street protests in Nairobi calling for justice in response to the killings.

The Observatory fears that such killings might be related to a complaint filed with the Independent Policing Oversight Agency (IPOA) [2] last year by Mr. Mwenda, in relation to violations carried out against him by a senior officer stationed at the Syokimau AP Camp.

On April 10, 2015, Mr. Mwenda was riding with a friend on his motorcycle when they were stopped by two AP police officers in civilian clothes. One of the officers reportedly shot Mr. Mwenda in the arm, after which he and his friend were taken to the hospital and then placed in police custody. After filing a complaint against the police, Mr. Mwenda was charged with “being in possession of narcotic drugs,” “gambling in a public space,” and “resisting arrest”.

Since Mr. Mwenda reported the incident to the IPOA, he had been subject to persistent threats and harassment. On December 13, 2015, the officer that had previously shot Mr. Mwenda, along with a few other AP officers, picked him up from his house and took him to the Mlolongo Police Station and charged him with six trumped-up charges. On February 16, 2016, another incident occurred after two men claiming to be from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) picked up Mr. Mwenda from court for alleged robbery.

The Observatory would like to recall that the aforementioned killings are part of a broader pattern of abuses carried out by Kenyan officials. According to Kenyan human rights institutions and NGOs, in the past six years the number of extrajudicial killings involving Kenyan police or security services is in the high hundreds [3].

The Observatory strongly condemns the murders of Messrs. Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda, and Joseph Muiruri and urges the authorities to conduct an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into these killings and to properly prosecute those responsible, as well as to grant adequate reparations to the families of the deceased.

More generally, the Observatory urges the Kenyan authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of the physical and psychological integrity of all human right defenders in Kenya.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Kenya, urging them to:

i. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned events and more in general into all acts of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings occurring within the Kenya Police Service,in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

ii. Guarantee adequate reparation to the families of Messrs. Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda, and Joseph Muiruri;

iii. More in general, guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Kenya;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Kenya.


· Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, State House, Statehouse Road, P.O Box: 40530 00100, Nairobi, Kenya., Fax: +254-020-2436, Email:
· Hon. William Ruto, Deputy-President of the Republic of Kenya, Office of The Deputy President, Harambee Avenue, P.O. Box 74434 - 00200 Nairobi, Kenya., Tel: +254 20 3247000/1/2/3/4/5, Email:
· Hon. Joseph Nkaissery, Interior & Coordination of National Government, Harambee House, Harambee Avenue, P.O Box 30510,00100 Nairobi, Tel: +254-20-2227411, Email:
·Commissioner of Police, Kenya Police Headquarters, Vigilance House, Harambee Avenue, P.O. Box 30083, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: +254-020-341411/6/8, Email: ,
· Commissioner Kagwiria Mbogori, Chairperson, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Fax: +254-020- 2716160 E-mail
· H.E. Mr. Stephen Ndungu Karau, Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations in Geneva, Av. de la Paix 1-3, 1202 Genève, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 731 29 05, E-mail:
· H.E. Johnson Weru, Embassy of Kenya in Brussels, 208 av. W. Churchill, 1180 Uccle, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 340 10 50 / + 32 2 340 10 68. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Kenya in your respective countries.

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  • Co-signatories


    Geneva-Paris, July 14, 2016

    Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

    The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

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