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Environmentalists and human rights activists call for swift probe into murder of Joanna Stutchbury

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 17- A consortium of Kenya conservationists, Civil Societies and  Human right advocates have demanded a swift investigation into the murder of a prominent environmentalist Joanna Stutchbury warning more deaths would follow if activists continued to be attacked with impunity.

Led by Center for Justice Governance Environmental Action and Amnesty Kenya, the activists said they were alarmed at the rate at which human rights activists, environmentalists, and conservationists are threatened, harassed and killed in Kenya and worldwide yet  the perpetrators continue to walk around the country free.

“We as organizations from all parts of the country, the African region, and the world, condemn this senseless killing and call for justice for Joanna and all the other environmental and human rights activists who have lost their lives while defending the integrity of our environment and natural heritage,” the activists said in a statement.

“These fierce and courageous defenders have met their untimely death while trying to leave behind a better world for the next generation, for being the voices and guardians of the trees in the forests that give us the oxygen that we breathe and the wildlife that attracts billions of shillings as foreign currency from the tourists that visit this nation,” they said.

They further called on the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, as well as the Kenya Forestry Service, to come up with a plan of protecting and, where appropriate, gazette all forest lands in Kenya to shield them from land grabbers who see the forests as opportunities to enrich themselves at the expense of our environment and all Kenyans.

The vocal Kenyan environmentalist, known for fighting for Kiambu forest which is under constant threat from private developers was killed on Thursday at her home in Thindigua, Kiambu County.

She was shot dead four times by gunmen along the drive way of her home, according to police and witnesses.

Nothing was stolen from her, with reports indicating she might have been targeted.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has since called on security agencies to hunt down her killers and bring them to book.

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In his message of condolence to the family, relatives and friends, the president said his administration greatly appreciates the contribution of Stutchbury in conserving the environment.

“It is very sad, unfortunate and regrettable that bad people have senselessly taken away the life of Joanna Stutchbury in such a senseless manner,” the President said in a statement on Friday.

“For the longest time, Joanna has been a steadfast champion for the conservation of our environment and is remembered for her relentless efforts to protect Kiambu forest from encroachment,” the President mourned.

The Head of State promised Government action to track down and apprehend killers of Ms Stutchbury terming them cowardly enemies of the Kenyan nation.


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