Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Chebulet and Silvia Wanjiku are the three Administration Police officers arrested in connection with the killing of a lawyer, his client and a taxi operator, police have revealed.
However, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet gave no other details about their service record, but dismissed claims that National Police Service was engaged in extra-judicial killings following the death of Willie Kimani, a human rights lawyer, his driver Joseph Muiruri and boda boda rider Josephat Mwenda who were last seen alive at the Athi River police camp.
But even as Boinnet denied the existence of death squads within the police service, the civil society has accused the police of brutality and summary executions.
Kenya’s Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) says security forces were behind at least two-thirds of gun-related deaths in Kenya between 2013 and April 2016, with a total of 563 deaths.
The organisation recorded 199 killings by police in 2014. IMLU said the number of people killed by police between January to December 2015 was 126 of which 97 were summarily executed, 20 shot to protect life and nine killed in unclear circumstances.
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This year, eight young men are suspected to have been executed by police officers.
Nakuru County topped the list of police executions recorded with seven, followed by Nairobi and Isiolo with six each. Kirinyaga had five while Turkana, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Homa Bay had four each. Narok and Nyeri counties recorded three cases each while Bungoma, Muranga, Kajiado, Lamu, Laikipia and Uasin Gishu counties had two cases each. Kisii, Meru, Marsabit, Nyandarua, Kiambu, Busia, Bomet, Vihiga and Baringo counties reported one case each.
Yesterday, the Kenya Judges and Magistrates Association and Attorney General Githu Muigai joined calls for prosecution of those involved in the killings.
KJMA President Justice Hedwig Ong’undi and Secretary General Brian Khaemba said in a statement that the killing was an attempt to subvert the course of justice. The Attorney General said the government does not condone extra-judicial killings and warned that police officers who carry out executions would bear the consequences individually.
“It is the government’s position that the incident currently under investigation is to be treated as a case of individual criminal action of a rogue actor(s) acting outside of the rule of law. Consequently, the government will spare no effort to bring those responsible in their singular and individual culpability to book whatever their status or affiliation,” he said. “The contradictory actions of individuals propelled by motives other than the rule of law will not be tolerated.”
As the country reels in the shocking murder of the three, two proposed laws meant to protect civilians from torture and ensure independent investigations are done are still lying in Parliament.
The National Coroner’s Service Bill (2014), which is meant to “de-link forensic medical documentation and investigation relating to custodial and suspicious deaths” by security personnel is still pending in the National Assembly.
The other law, Prevention from Torture Bill (2015), is meant to provide appropriate punishments for offenders and compensation for the victims. It is also pending in the National Assembly.
In a report released in September last year, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) revealed that at least 25 extra-judicial killings and 81 forced disappearances were perpetrated by Kenyan security forces.
“Partner governments and donor agencies supporting Kenya’s security sector must insist and condition their assistance on compliance with the rule of law, respect for human rights and accountability for abuses during operations by the security forces,” a press statement by KNCHR read in part.
In an opinion on the law against police torture, Kituo cha Sheria said the country does not have penal provisions against a torture perpetrator in Kenya.
“The closest penal provision is causing grievous harm contrary to Section 34 of the penal code. The mental aspect of torture is yet to be investigated and coded in law in Kenya. Parliament should pass a law on prohibition from torture to cure the gap created in realisation of this right. The law, as it is, still leaves a lot of room for interpretation by the police and any other citizen on what amounts to torture,” the opinion posted last year reads.