Boost for women as KHRC, IMLU join extrajudicial killings case

Wednesday March 18 2020
By SAM KIPLAGAT

Two rights organisations have been allowed to join a case in which widows and mothers have sued the government over extrajudicial killings.

Justice James Makau on Tuesday allowed the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) and Kenya Human Right Commission (KHRC) to join the petition as interested parties, giving it a boost.

The women sued the Inspector-General of Police and Attorney-General, accusing them of failing in their constitutional duties.

The Director of Public Prosecution, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights have been named as interested parties.

ORDERS SOUGHT

KHRC and IMLU separately told the court that extrajudicial killings were of great public concern and that the issues raised had merit.

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The women are seeking several orders among them the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry on the killings.

They also want a team formed to conduct independent investigations into the execution of their sons and husbands, which have never been documented.     

The petitioners argue that the IG has not taken adequate steps to prevent further killings during police or law enforcement operations.

They also say the AG has an unqualified obligation to advise the President on why a commission of inquiry is necessary to investigate and address specific and systemic factors contributing to the high number of killings.

REPORTS

The petition cites 22 cases in which excessive use of force was justified by the police, even where minors were involved.

The cases were documented by the International Justice Mission (IJM)  following the killings in 2016 of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.

The KHRC said they had documented killings by police and that they were of the view that police shoot to kill without justification under the guise of curbing crime.

"KHRC has documented and published numerous reports on security and extrajudicial killings and would be in fact be very resourceful in the instant proceeding," Executive Director George Kegoro said in an affidavit.

RESPONSES

Both the IG and the AG are yet to file their responses and have been granted 30 days by the court to do so.

The DPP said the suit lacks clarity and precision as it does not disclose any cause of action.

The DPP further said the case against him was untenable as the petitioners did not show how he failed in his duty.

IPOA says that whereas the issue of unlawful and unjustified killings by police is a matter of public concern, the decision to set up a commission of inquiry solely rests with the President and is discretionary.

“The petitioners, therefore, cannot require the court to compel the AG to advise the President to set up a judicial inquiry as such orders would be in vain since the President is not in any way bound by the advice of the AG," IPOA said.

TRUTH

The mothers and widows of the 22 young men claimed they were executed by police in the last four years.

Mothers and Widows of EJKS, a self-help group that comprises of the families of persons allegedly gunned down by police, and the IJM insist they have to know the truth about the deaths.

"Truth is the primary value in the administration of justice and in instances where use of force is utilised by police officers, the truth can only be established through prompt, thorough and impartial investigations,” reads part of the petition.