NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has condemned assassination attempts on lawyer Charles Kanjama, an advocate representing the family of a former Garissa County Finance Executive Idris Mukhtar who is currently admitted to hospital following a botched attempt on his life.
Documents in the public domain have confirmed that Kanjama had a number of correspondences with the poll agency on behalf of Mukhtar who was preparing to challenge Garissa Governor Ali Korane’s suitability to serve on grounds that he presented forged certificates for clearance to seek the elective office.
LSK’s Nairobi branch Vice Chairperson Paula Njuguna told the press on Wednesday the attacks were an affront to the constitutional tenets of access to justice.
Njuguna said the threats on Kanjama who is the Chairperson of LSK Nairobi branch will not intimidate the over 7,000 registered lawyers from representing clients in courts of law.
She however warned that “a threat to a lawyer in the line of duty is a threat to the rule of law,” while calling for State agencies to move with speed so as to safeguard the safety of lawyers.
“Lawyers must not be put in a position where they have to be selective in representing clients for fear of their safety,” Njuguna stated in a statement addressed to the Ministry of Interior, National Police Service, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Justice and the Witness Protection Agency.
“These are actions that constitute a complete affront to the constitutional requirement of access to justice and impede the pursuit of justice and our professed national goal “justice be our shield and defender”,” she pointed out.
LSK expressed concern with the sudden death of a key witness in the attempted assassination of Kanjama’s client – Mukhtar – at the Parklands Police Station cells on Thursday last week.
“Our fears are further heightened by the sudden death of one of the key suspects-David Mwai in Mr Mukhtar’s attempted assassination, under unclear circumstances,” he said.
Mwai had been picked by the police after being identified as the person who pulled the trigger aiming at Mukhtar, at a restaurant based in Nairobi’s Kileleshwa on August 19.
Police Spokesperson Charles Owino on Saturday ruled out reports of cover-up in the death of Mwai in custody restating that the suspect hanged himself.
A post-mortem conducted on Mwai confirmed that he had died of strangulation but it was not clear whether it was a case of suicide or homicide.
In its statement on Wednesday, LSK noted an influx in the number of assassinations of lawyers in the recent past saying the trend must be stopped.
The bar association cited the deaths of lawyers Willie Kimani, Jared Ratemo, Antony Ngunjiri, and Stephen Mburu as case scenarios where lawyers had been murdered for executing their mandates.
Even more worrying, the association said, was the fact that the murders were far from being resolved.
Njuguna urged State agencies to move with speed and institute measures that will curb cases of assassinations of lawyers and witnesses.
She proposed placing under a witness protection program witnesses lined up to testify in court.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the case, and the recent death of a key suspect – David Mwai – who allegedly committed suicide in a police cell, that all witnesses to this case be placed under Witness Protection during the period in which the proceedings are ongoing,” recommended Njuguna.
The LSK warned that should State agencies fail to bring the culprits involved in the assassination attempt of Mukhtar to book; the association will launch a private prosecution of individuals who may be culpable.
LSK further warned of peaceful protests to compel the State to act against individuals who allegedly threatened lawyer Kanjama.