FEBRUARY 3, 2023
Today we close a chapter of one of the most heinous murders in our country. The murders of lawyer and human rights defender Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and their driver Joseph Muiruri brought to the fore the dark abyss of police criminality in Kenya.
With the sentencing of the three police officers Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet and Sylvia Wanjiku and police informer Peter Ngugi today we give a sigh of relief following a six-year court battle to bring the perpetrators to justice. Although this sentence cannot bring the three back to life, it is a step in the right direction that will promote police accountability in the country.
It has been our hope that the trial of this, and other cases that have been before our courts would deter extrajudicial killings in Kenya. We can be encouraged that there has been a drop of 30% in cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in 2022 compared to 2021.
However one year on, no-one has been prosecuted for the cases of bodies dumped in River Yala, reports of a slaughter container at a police station in the city where none other than the president has said a special unit of the police slaughtered Kenyans and dumped their bodies in rivers.
We applaud the President once again for disbanding the Special Service Unit. It was similar to the one led by the first convict Leliman that caused the murder of Willie, Joseph and Josephat.
This case has brought tremendous gains to our criminal justice jurisprudence. This judgement from the court deepens administration and jurisprudence in holding police officers to account and the trial of gross human rights violations. Before the death of the three only two officers had been convicted of murder in the Kwekwe Mwandaza case.
However, since June 2016 when the three were murdered and the accused persons arrested, we have seen over 40 police officers convicted of murder and other crimes. This is a big step in the right direction. We commend our investigation, prosecution agencies and the judiciary for safeguarding human rights and acting efficiently in the administration of justice.
Even as we celebrate these wins, we are alive to the fact that we still need systemic changes for us to have an accountable and professional police service. A service that will not resort to extrajudicial means to deal with crime but will be well equipped to prevent crime from happening and investigate cases thoroughly that will lead to convictions of the culprits and the safety of all Kenyans.
As members of PRWG-K, we continue to demand that;
- Attorney General and Parliament to effectively and fully implement the National Coroner’s Service Act 2017 and appoint a Coroner General to oversee its implementation
- Parliament to criminalize enforced disappearances through legislation
- Government of Kenya to ratify, without any reservations, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
- Investigation and prosecution of all cases of Enforced Disappearances and Extrajudicial Killings in the country
- All police killings are to be swiftly and impartially investigated to ensure that the use of lethal force is appropriate.
- The government of Kenya to provide reparations including monetary compensation for damages caused to victims, medical and psychological care and rehabilitation for any form of physical or mental damage, as well as a legal and social rehabilitation
- The Government of Kenya set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the issues of extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances in Kenya.
This statement is signed by members of the Police Reforms Working Group, an alliance of several organisations committed to professional and rule of law policing. They include the Social Justice Centres Working Group, International Justice Mission, Independent Medical Legal Unit, Katiba Institute, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Defenders Coalition, Haki Africa, Amnesty International Kenya, International Centre for Transitional Justice, The Kenyan Section of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya), Usalama Reforms Forum, Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA-K) Legal Resources Foundation, Transparency International Kenya, Shield For Justice, Wangu Kanja Foundation, Peace Brigades International and Katiba Institute
For queries contact Joseph Karuiki – Communications officer IJM , Phone: +254 799402369 or Sarah Nyakio-Communication lead IMLU, Phone +254718097128