Civil society ‘fight’ upsurge in extra judicial killings

Members of civil society and activists march in the streets of Nairobi to demonstrate against the increasing number of deaths due to extra judicial killings.Picture:Courtesy
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The police are once again on the receiving end following claims of rising cases of extra-judicial killings in Nairobi and other parts the country.

This follows the recent daylight shooting to death of suspects in the city’s Eastleigh area that was captured by a witness using his mobile phone.

In response, a number of local and international organizations, under the auspice of the Police Reforms Working Group-Kenya (PRWG-K) held a demonstration and strongly condemned the summary execution of a young man on April 31, 2017.

The officer was believed to be attached to the Pangani Police Station, as shown in the video widely circulated on social and mainstream media.

In the two-minute video, the plain-clothed police officer was seen holding a young man, whom he turns around and shoots.

The officer is seen firing a first round of five shots into the chest of the young man. He is then seen requesting for a second firearm and fires another five rounds into the man who is at this point lying on the ground.

The victim still evidently alive receives one more shot and his head falls lifelessly onto the pavement.

Next to him is the lifeless body of another young man in a pool of blood who apparently had been shot earlier.

Later, the Kenya Human rights Commission held a press conference where they condemned the law enforcers saying: The nation has witnessed a grave criminal act, committed by guardians of the criminal justice system.”

But in defence of his officers, Nairobi Police Commander, Japheth Koome, issued a statement saying: “The same gangsters shot dead an officer yesterday. Tell all gangsters out there that when they kill an officer, I am ruthless and they will get it from me!”

On their part, PRWG-K took issue with the Police Commander saying it was unfortunate as it was promoting impunity and disregard for the law and the Constitution.

“It has shown the public that the police leadership does indeed condone and sanction extrajudicial executions,” read part of the PRWG-K statement.

The civil society also expressed grave concern over the rising cases of deaths through use of lethal force by the police.

In the past 15 months, several human rights groups and media houses have reported multiple incidents of torture and extra-judicial executions implicating police officers.

This latest case, they said, is not an isolated one, but an indication of a broader and widespread pattern of such executions by the police as documented by human rights groups and the media.

The cases of Kwekwe Mwandaza from Kinango in Kwale County, Dennis Ongwae Magomere and Felix Ngaywa Nyagena, who were both students from Egerton University, Willie Kimani, a lawyer with International Justice Mission (IJM), his client Josephat Mwenda, a motorcycle  (boda-boda) taxi operator, and Joseph Muiruri, a taxi driver were cited as some of the many cases which the media exposed.

“The usual response of the police’s leadership is that the executions are carried out by a few rogue officers, and that the police service has no official shoot-to-kill policy. Is this another case of a rogue officer? At least three other officers, one uniformed, are on the scene as captured on the video. Are they rogue too? Where the list of rogue officers that have been effectively is investigated, prosecuted and/or undergone disciplinary measure?” the civil society officials asked in the statement.

The recent shooting March 31, 2017, contravenes Article 26 of the Constitution, which asserts that every person has the right to life. A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorized by the Constitution or other written law.

Further, the National Police Service Act 2011 Schedule 6 (B) provides that ‘Firearms may only be used when less extreme measures are inadequate, and for the following purposes: a) saving or protecting the life of the officer or other persons; and b) self-defense or in defense of other person against imminent threat of life or serious injury.

In the video, it was evident that the suspect was subdued. There was no imminent threat of life in this case. The young man was restrained.

To address the pattern of extrajudicial executions in Kenya, PRWG-K calls on:

President Uhuru Kenyatta, to: promptly establish an independent judicial commission of inquiry to conduct thorough investigations into allegations of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and other ill-treatment of suspected criminals and detainees by the Kenya Police and other military, security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

They are also demanding that the proposed commission should also examine the extent and causes of continued and persistent lack of individual and command accountability for the same, with a view to ensuring changes in conduct and culture, which is in line with international, regional and Constitutional human rights standards.

The group also wants the President to speedily assent the National Coroners Bill 2017 to provide for independent forensic investigations of questionable deaths.

They are also calling on Kenya National Assembly (Parliament) to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which Kenya signed a decade ago on February 6.

Other demands are that investigations into the summary execution of the suspect be expedited and the report forwarded to the Office of Director of Public Prosecution’s for further action.

Lastly, the group is demanding for an immediate vetting and removal of police officers involved in extrajudicial killings, including those from units within the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, also linked to extra-judicial killings.

Other organisations under the auspice of the Police Reforms Working Group- Kenya (PRWG-K) include:  International Commission of Jurists –Kenya (ICJ-K), Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) International Justice Mission (IJM), Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU); Rights Promotion and Protection Centre (RPP), Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-K),

Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW), National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD), Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ)

Usalama Reforms Forum , Amnesty International – Kenya , Transparency International-Kenya, Katiba Institute (KI) , Society for International Development, International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ-K) , Chemi Chemi Ya Ukweli , Kariobangi Paralegal Network ,Shield for Justice (SFJ), and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI).

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