NAIROBI, Kenya, March 7 – Human Rights Watch demanded an independent investigation be launched into the killings of two human rights activists critical of extrajudicial killings by police, in a statement received Saturday.
Oscar Kamau Kingara, head of the Oscar Foundation rights group, as well as the organisation’s advocacy director, John Paul Oulu, were gunned down Thursday near the University of Nairobi.
The Oscar Foundation published a report two years ago entitled "Licence to Kill: Extrajudicial killings and police brutality in Kenya" that detailed police killings.
"The murder of two activists long critical of police abuses demands an inquiry that is not under the control of the police," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
"An independent inquiry is the only way to reach the truth and ensure justice for this horrible crime," she said.
A UN expert on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston, last month issued a damning report describing systematic executions by the police, mainly during a 2007 crackdown against the Mungiki, an outlawed criminal organisation.
Once a quasi-religious group of dreadlocked youths who embraced traditional rituals, the Mungiki were banned in 2002 after evolving into a powerful extortionist gang famous for beheading and skinning its victims.
Alston issued a statement on Friday also demanding an independent inquiry into the killings but Kenya’s police chief has already dismissed the idea.
On Friday, Amnesty International also condemned the killings in the strongest terms and lashed out at the government for implying structural ties between the NGO and the Mungiki.
"It is unacceptable for the Kenyan government to make statements suggesting that opposition to illegal killings by the police amounts to support for banned groups," said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty’s Africa programme director.