Posted by: africanpressorganization | 7 March 2009

UN expert on extrajudicial executions calls upon Kenyan Government to establish an independent investigation into the assassination of two prominent Kenyan human rights defenders



UN expert on extrajudicial executions calls upon Kenyan Government to establish an independent investigation into the assassination of two prominent Kenyan human rights defenders


NAIROBI, Kenya, March 7, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The shocking assassination in Nairobi yesterday of two prominent Kenyan human rights defenders must be independently investigated, according to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Professor Philip Alston.

At approximately 6.00 pm in Nairobi on 5 March, gunmen killed two members of the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic, a human rights organisation providing free legal aid services to the poor.  Those killed were the Founder and CEO of the Oscar Foundation, Mr Oscar Kamau Kingara, and the Communications and Advocacy Director, Mr John Paul Oulu.  The two human rights defenders were on their way to a meeting with a senior human rights officer of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights when they were shot at point-blank range, sitting in their car in heavy traffic near Nairobi University.

Alston said that he had met with both men during his February 2009 UN fact-finding mission to Kenya and that they had provided him with testimony on the issue of police killings in Nairobi and Central Province.

“It is extremely troubling when those working to defend human rights in Kenya can be assassinated in broad daylight in the middle of Nairobi”, said Alston.  “This constitutes a major threat to the rule of law, regardless of who might be responsible for the killings”, he added.  Alston noted that “there is an especially strong onus on the Kenyan Government to arrange for an independent investigation into these killings given the circumstances surrounding them.  Those circumstances include a statement attributed to a Government spokesman, Mr Alfred Mutua, publicly denouncing the Oscar Foundation for its links to the illegal Mungiki sect, and another statement attributed to Police Spokesman, Mr Eric Kiraithe, that a major security operation was ‘definitely going to get’ those responsible for recent demonstrations attributable to the Mungiki.”

In 2007, the Oscar Foundation had published a report titled “License to kill: Extrajudicial execution and police brutality in Kenya”, which documented killings by police in Kenya.  The Oscar Foundation also testified before parliamentarians on this issue in February and March 2009.

Alston said that it was inevitable under the circumstances for suspicion to fall upon the police in relation to these killings.  “It is imperative, if the Kenyan Police are to be exonerated, for an independent team to be called from somewhere like Scotland Yard or the South African Police to investigate”, he said.  He noted that there is no existing independent unit capable of investigating possible police misconduct in Kenya.  He also stated that he had received reports that an eyewitness at the scene was also wounded, and may have been taken away by the police.


The UN Special Rapporteur carried out a fact-finding mission at the invitation of the Government of Kenya from 16-25 February 2009.  His preliminary statement found that killings by police were “systematic, widespread, and carefully planned“.  
Professor Alston was appointed Special Rapporteur in 2004 and reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. He has had extensive experience in the human rights field.  


SOURCE : Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)


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