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Murder of Kenyan Human Rights Defenders


The casket with the remains of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, who was abducted and killed alongside taxi driver Joseph Muiruri and client Josephat Mwendwa, is seen during their requiem mass at the Consolata Shrine in Westlands Nairobi, Kenya, July 8, 2016.

The individuals responsible for these crimes must face prosecution regardless of whether they are private citizens or members of the National Police Service.

The bodies of Willie Kimani, a lawyer and investigator working with the U.S. non-governmental organization International Justice Mission, or IJM, IJM client Josephat Mwenda, and IJM driver Joseph Muiruri were recovered on July 7th from a river in Machakos County, east of Nairobi.

Willie Kimani, a human rights lawyer, was acting on behalf of Josephat Mwendwa, who claimed he had been shot and injured by police. The three men went missing following their appearance at proceedings in a Nairobi-area courthouse on June 23.

Three Kenyan police officers were arrested in connection with the deaths and appeared at the High Court in Nairobi on July 11, where an application to detain them for 14 days pending investigation was granted. The case will return to court on July 18.

A joint statement was issued on July 1 by the Heads of Mission in Kenya from the United States; Australia; Denmark; Germany; the Netherlands; Norway; Sweden; and the United Kingdom.

“Our diplomatic missions have offered law enforcement assistance to the Government of Kenya in this matter,” the statement reads. “Human rights defenders play a key role in promoting human rights and strengthening the rule of law, and we are committed to supporting their work and protecting them.

The individuals responsible for these crimes must face prosecution regardless of whether they are private citizens or members of the NPS (the National Police Service). Holding police officers accountable for violations of human rights and other forms of misconduct is vital to end impunity in the police service and to establish safety and security for all Kenyans.”

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