The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kenya.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources that four police officers have been charged with murder, in relation to the killing of human rights lawyer Mr. Willie Kimani, his client Mr. Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver, Mr. Joseph Muiruri (see background information).
According to the information received, on July 18, 2016, four officers, Messrs. Frederick Leliman, Leonard Mwangi, Stephen Chebulet and Ms. Sylvia Wanjiku, denied the charges when they appeared in front of High Court Judge Jessie Lessit, who remanded them in custody while investigation is still ongoing.
The Observatory urges Kenyan authorities to conduct a 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.
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 has dramatically increased .
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 and put an end to the pattern of extrajudicial killings conducted by the Kenyan police.
On April 10, 2015, Mr. Mwenda was riding with a friend on his motorcycle when they were stopped by two Administration police (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 Independent Policing Oversight Agency (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, apprehended him at his house and brought him to the Mlolongo Police Station where they filed six trumped-up charges against him. On February 16, 2016, two men claiming to be from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) apprehended Mr. Mwenda from court for alleged robbery.
On June 23, 2016, at around 12 pm, while traveling home after filing a complaint against a police officer within the aforementioned case,Mr. Mwenda, hislawyer Mr. Willie Kimani ,and their taxi driver, Mr. Joseph Muiruriwent missing. On July 1 st, 2016, the bodies of the three men were recovered from the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River in Machakos Country, 73km northeast of Nairobi.
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 the National Police Police Service of the Republic of Kenya Joseph Boinett confirmed that three AP officers, Frederick Leliman, Stephen Chebulet and Sylvia Wanjikuhad been arrested in relation to the killings. On July 4, 2016, a judge remanded them into 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.
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 and put an end to the pattern of extrajudicial killings conducted by the Kenyan police;
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
· 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: email@example.com
· Hon. Joseph Nkaissery, Interior & Coordination of National Government, Harambee House, Harambee Avenue, P.O Box 30510,00100 Nairobi, Tel: +254-20-2227411, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
·Commissioner of Police, Kenya Police Headquarters, Vigilance House, Harambee Avenue, P.O. Box 30083, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: +254-020-341411/6/8, Email: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org
· Commissioner Kagwiria Mbogori, Chairperson, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Fax: +254-020- 2716160 E-mail email@example.com
· 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
· 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: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Kenya in your respective countries.