PBI-Kenya and Police Reforms Working Group comment on sentencing of police officers in extrajudicial killings

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri were killed by police in June 2016.

The Guardian reports: “A police officer, Fredrick Leliman, who was among those convicted of killing Nairobi lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, has been sentenced to death by a Nairobi court.”

“In Kenya, death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison, according to a ruling by the country’s supreme court.”

“In the judgment delivered on Friday [February 3], three other accused, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku and Peter Ngugi, will serve 30, 24, and 20 years in prison, respectively.”

Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet and Sylvia Wanjiku were police officers and Peter Ngugi was a police informant.

The article adds: “The killings caused uproar in Kenya where cases of extrajudicial killings are rife, with some organisations reporting 127 cases of police killings and 25 enforced disappearances in 2022 alone.”

Kimani, Mwenda and Muiruri were killed by the police in Nairobi on June 23, 2016.

Aljazeera further explains: “Kimani, Mwenda and Muiruri were killed shortly after filing a complaint of police brutality. Mwenda, a motorbike taxi driver, accused lead defendant Frederick Leliman of shooting him for no reason at a traffic stop in 2015. At the time of his death, Kimani was working for International Justice Mission, a global legal rights group that helps investigate and document police killings and brutality. Their bodies were later recovered from a river outside the capital Nairobi.”

Missing Voices has tweeted:

The full statement from the Police Reforms Working Group says: “With the sentencing of the three police officers Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet and Sylvia Wanjiku and police informer Peter Ngugi today we give a sigh of relief following a six-year court battle to bring the perpetrators to justice. Although this sentence cannot bring the three back to life, it is a step in the right direction that will promote police accountability in the country.”

This statement signed by working group members – including the Peace Brigades International-Kenya Project – demands: “Government of Kenya to ratify, without any reservations, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance” and that “All police killings are to be swiftly and impartially investigated to ensure that the use of lethal force is appropriate.”

We continue to follow this situation in Kenya.

Anne Makori, Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).


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