, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – Human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Murimi underwent torture before meeting their deaths at the hands of those duty bound to protect them – Administration Police officers.
The pathologist who carried out post-mortems described their deaths as “extremely painful.”
- International Commission of Jurists Kenya Executive Director Samwel Mohochi described their killing as an epitome of impunity, in a case involving police officers, who are already in custody undergoing trial.
- "We give it to him as recognition for the ultimate price he paid in performing his work as human rights defender and as a reminder to the risks that face all other human rights defenders," he asserted.
- "This will renew our commitment to all human rights defenders. It is an appreciation of the work he did."
“Whoever was inflicting these injuries seemed to have had an affinity on the testicles and they crushed them,” Andrew Kanyi Gachie told the court handling their murder trial.
In recognition of his work, lawyer Kimani has now been named Jurist of the Year after he paid the ultimate price while defending human rights.
Kimani, who was killed mid this year was awarded the posthumous award for his bravery in defending the down trodden in the country, since he was a law student at the University of Nairobi.
It is the work his widow Hannah Kimani, while receiving the award said: “I never thought it will cost his life.”
“No amount of words can explain who Willy was. He was one of a kind… with this award, it shows that his work was not in vain.”
She described Kimani, “as the best father my two boys would ever have.”
International Commission of Jurists Kenya Executive Director Samwel Mohochi described their killing as an epitome of impunity, in a case involving police officers, who are already in custody undergoing trial.
“We give it to him as recognition for the ultimate price he paid in performing his work as human rights defender and as a reminder to the risks that face all other human rights defenders,” he asserted.
“This will renew our commitment to all human rights defenders. It is an appreciation of the work he did.”
Between June this year and now, he says much has not been done to rectify the situation since more cases of extra-judicial killings continue to be registered.
His appeal to the government is “uphold the Constitution and reform the National Police Service fully. As ICJ Kenya, we do maintain that the police reforms need to go back on the drawing board…we have lost the script.”
According to him, the ongoing police vetting was ineffective since it largely focuses on the economic activities of the individual officers, “while we have serious issues of human rights violations.”
He claimed that the service has “criminal gangs” who unless rooted out, will make the reform process immaterial.
Kimani was honoured in an event graced by United Kingdom High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey, who urged the Inspector General of Police and Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery to crackdown on all rogue officers within the service, for the good of the country and in honour of the victims of extra-judicial killings.
He described the moment as “perfect” for the National Police Service to renew its efforts towards a civilian-centred police service.
“It is a perfect opportunity of the Inspector General of Police and Interior Cabinet Secretary to act decisively,” he said.
The Jurist of the Year is an annual award that seeks to give recognition, acknowledgment and encouragement to jurists who have consistently, fearlessly and impartially promoted the rule of law and human rights in Kenya during the year.
The award has been given out on the 10th December each year since 1993 to commemorate and honor the United Nations International Human Rights Day.
As an advocacy tool to motivate jurists who engage in human rights work, the Jurist of the Year Award has no equal in the country.
According to Mohochi, the award provides an opportunity for human rights defenders and actors to reflect on the gains in promoting human rights during the year and to chart the way forward for the future.
It is an award that seeks to give recognition, acknowledgment and encouragement to these individuals.
Lawyer Paul Muite won the award in 2015.
– Lobby Groups report –
It comes a time the National Police Service has found itself in defence, once again, over cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.
A recent report by HAKI Africa, indicated the police in the coastal region were guilty of 81 cases of deaths and enforced disappearances for the past five years.
Of the 81 cases, 22 are deaths that were as a result of excessive use of force during policing operations, 4 deaths in police custody, 31 cases of extra-judicial killings and 24 enforced disappearances.
“These tactics of extrajudicial killings and disappearances have transferred easily to Kenya’s war on terror, where anti-terrorism police have for many years been given paramilitary training and high-tech arms and equipment from various quarters,” reads a section of the report.
The report accuses police of being behind the killings of terror suspects and Muslim clerics accused of radicalizing the youths, in what the organization Executive Director Hussein Khalid says can be counter-productive.
The IG of Police however dismissed the report saying its credibility was in question since some of the said victims were known terrorists.
He said the service was committed to ensuring the rule of law prevails in a secure environment.