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  • A man runs during an opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) protest in Nairobi, Kenya.

    A man runs during an opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) protest in Nairobi, Kenya. | Photo: EFE

Published 10 April 2019

Kenya's Inspector General of Police, Joseph Boinett; and Attorney General, Paul Kihara Kariuki, have both been sued by women who accused them of neglecting to complete their constitutional obligations.

A Kenyan judge has allowed the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) and Kenya Humans Right Commission (KHRC) to act as interested parties in a lawsuit filed by widows and mothers against the government regarding extrajudicial killings.

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The participation of these human rights organizations is expected to give the case a boost. They will be added to the list of other interested parties, which includes the director of Public Prosecution, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.  

Kenya's former Inspector General of Police, Joseph Boinett; and Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki have both been sued by women who accused them of neglecting to complete their constitutional obligations. Both the KHRC and IMLU expressed the importance of raising public awareness of extrajudicial killings, and agree that the Boinett had not taken adequate preventative measures that would lessen the likelihood of killings taking place during police or law enforcement operations.

The lawsuit includes several demands on how to address the issues raised, including a judicial commission to pursue reported killings. The women involved in the case, who have lost their husbands, have asked for the formation of a team to undergo independent investigations of their spouses' undocumented executions.

It has also been indicated that the Attorney General's role includes informing the president as to why these measures, especially a commission of inquiry, are imperative in gathering information in order to implement policies that aim to bring down the high number of killings.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority pointed out that extrajudicial killings are unlawful and a matter of concern, but that the court cannot legally require the Attorney General to advise the president to organize a judicial inquiry. The decision to do so would rely solely on the president's discretion.

Included in the lawsuit are 22 separate incidents of excessive force being used by police, some involving minors, in which the officers were let off scot-free. According to the KHRC, the police are unjustified in their actions and have "documented and published numerous reports on security and extrajudicial killings [that] would be in fact be very resourceful in the instant proceeding."

The KHRC highlights that the excuse of "curbing crime" is simply a guise to get away with unnecessary use of force.

The former Inspector General and Attorney General have 30 days to file responses to the courts. The Director of Public Prosecution, Noordin Haji, has denigrated the lawsuit as lacking precision and not having clarified any failure to complete congressional duties.

All the women involved in the case have lost a son or husband at the hands of police killings in the last four years.

The group stress that the ultimate goal of the lawsuit is to gain access to the truth behind the deaths of their loved ones. In the petition, it was written that "truth is the primary value in the administration of justice and in instances where the use of force is utilized by police officers, the truth can only be established through prompt, thorough and impartial investigations.”

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