Kenya: Assassination of Messrs. Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulu - KEN 001/ 0309 / OBS 043

Urgent Appeal

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Kenya Peace Truth and Justice-KPTJ, a coalition of Kenyan NGOs, about the assassination of two human rights defenders, Messrs. Oscar Kamau King’ara and John Paul Oulu (also known as GPO), respectively Chief Executive Officer and Communications and Advocacy Officer of the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic Kenya (OFFLACK). OFFLACK is a registered charitable organization that offers free legal services to the poor. Some of its major projects include organizing caravans to offer free legal aid to the poor around the country. They have a strong track record researching corruption in the police force, the prisons, and police brutality against the urban poor. The latest activity was researching and documenting cases of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings.

According to the information received, on March 5, 2009, at 7.30 pm, while Messrs. Oscar Kamau King’ara and John Paul Oulua were driving towards the office of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, their vehicle was blocked by two vehicles – a minibus and a pajero full of men, which had been trailing them, on Mamlaka road, outside Hall 11. Two men walked to their car and shot them through the window at point-blank range by the group of men while sitting in their car in heavy traffic near Nairobi University. Witnesses said Mr. King’ara was shot four times on the head and Mr. Oulu three times. The two men then jumped into their car and sped off towards the city centre.

According to eyewitnesses, the driver of a minibus would have been in police uniform. An eyewitness at the scene was also shot in the leg and was later taken away from the scene by policemen. While the nearest police station is located 1 km away, the central police did not arrive at the scene until more than three hours after the assault.

OFFLACK has been a major source of information to Parliament on atrocities playing out against the poor in the country. In 2008, OFFLACK released a report on extra judicial executions in Kenya entitled “The veil of impunity – who is guilty?”. On February 18, 2009, before Parliament debated the motion on extrajudicial killings, he presented Oscar Foundation’s findings on ongoing extra judicial killings to Hon. Peter Mwathi, the motion’s mover. Their last engagement with Parliament was a presentation to the Kioni Committee investigating organized gangs, a few days before the assassination. Messrs. King’ara and Oulu had also met UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings Philip Alston last month.

In November 2007, OFFLACK reported that in the five years up to August, 2007, Kenyan police had killed over 8,000 people in crackdowns against the Mungiki sect [1], with further 4,000 people still missing. Meanwhile, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights linked the police to the execution of 500 Mungiki over the previous five months. The police had described the reports as fictitious.

One day before, at his weekly briefing, the Government Spokesman, Dr. Alfred Mutua made public allegations according to which OFFLACK was a civil society front for Mungiki , and “[they were] going to deal with it”.

The Observatory fears that both human rights defenders were killed because of the sensitive information they had shared with both Prof. Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on summary and extrajudicial killings and with Kenyan MPs. The Observatory also condemns the statement made by the Government spokesman, which, in the context of the so-called “war on Mungiki”, may be interpreted as a blank cheque for targeting people justly or unjustly related to them and urges the Kenyan authorities to support publicly the legitimacy and the necessity of the work carried out by human rights defenders.

Finally the Observatory urges the Kenyan authorities to ensure that these assassinations do not remain unpunished and order a thorough and impartial investigation into the assassinations.

Actions required:

Please write to the Kenyan authorities, urging them to:

i.Take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of all members of OFFLACK, as well as of all human rights defenders in Kenya;

ii.Order a thorough and impartial investigation into Messrs. Oscar Kamau King’ara and John Paul Oulua’s assassination in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to Messrs. Oscar Kamau King’ara and John Paul Oulua’s families;

iv.Put an end to any act of harassment against all human rights defenders in Kenya;

v.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi.More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Kenya.


* Hon. Mwai Kibaki, The President, Republic of Kenya, P.O. Box 30050 00100 - Harambee Avenue Nairobi, Kenya, Fax: +254-020-243620, Email:
* Right Hon. Raila Odinga, Prime Minister, Republic of Kenya, P.O. Box 30050 00100, Nairobi, Kenya, Email:
* Hon. George Saitoti, Minister for Internal Security, Harambee Avenue, P.O. Box 30510, Nairobi 00200, Kenya, Tel: +254-020-227411
* Major General Hussein Ali, Commissioner of Police, Kenya Police Headquarters, Vigilance House, Harambee Avenue, P.O. Box 30083, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: +254-020-341411/6/8, Email:,
* Hon S. Amos Wako, Attorney General, State Law Office, Harambee Avenue, P.0. Box 40112, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel.: +254-020-227461
* Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Mrs. Jaoko e-mail
* Hon. Martha W. Karua, E.G.H., M.P., Ministry of Justice, Haile Selassie Avenue,
* P.O. Box 56057, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel.: 254-20-224029, Email:
* 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:
* 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 embassies of Kenya in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, March 9, 2009

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT 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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

Tel and fax: FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 1 43 55 18 80

Tel and fax: OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29


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