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Kenya: Murder of human rights defenders, Mr Oscar Kamau Kingara and Mr John Paul Oulu “GPO”
Front Line is deeply saddened following reports that human rights defenders Mr Oscar Kamau King'ara and Mr John Paul Oulu “GPO” were murdered on 5 March 2009. Oscar Kamau King'ara was a lawyer, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Oscar Foundation. John Paul Oulu “GPO” worked for the Oscar Foundation as Communications and Advocacy Officer.
The Oscar Foundation is a registered charity which offers free legal services to poor people in Kenya. It has carried out research on police brutality in urban areas of Kenya, as well as corruption in the police force and in prisons.
On 18 February 2009, the Oscar Foundation presented its findings on ongoing extrajudicial killings in Kenya to Hon. Peter Mwathi of the Ministry of Education for use in a parliamentary debate. The organisation also provided information for Prof. Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in the context of his fact-finding mission to Kenya in February 2009. Furthermore, the Oscar Foundation has presented a report on extrajudicial killings, entitled “The Killing Fields”, to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and a report on organised gangs to the Kioni Committee of the Kenyan Parliament.
On 5 March 2009, Oscar Kamau King'ara and John Paul Oulu “GPO” were shot to death on Mamlaka Road outside Hall 11 in Nairobi. Their vehicle was blocked by a minibus and a Mitsubishi Pajero vehicle, both of which had been following them. Several men were in the two vehicles blocking the way of Oscar Kamau King'ara and John Paul Oulu “GPO”. Two men got out, approached the vehicle of Oscar Kamau King'ara and John Paul Oulu “GPO”, and shot them both through the windows from close range.
Police from the Central Police Station did not arrive at the scene of the crime until more than three hours after the incident, although the station is situated only 1 km away. Oscar Kamau King'ara and John Paul Oulu “GPO” had been on their way to the KNCHR office for a meeting with Mr Kamanda Mucheke, a senior human rights officer with KNCHR, concerning how to formally respond to accusations made by Government Spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, that the Oscar Foundation was funding Mungiki, a political and religious group.
According to eyewitnesses, the driver of the minibus was in police uniform whilst the other men were wearing suits. The closest eyewitness to the incident was shot in the leg and later taken away by policemen. Representatives of the Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice Coalition are currently attempting to verify his whereabouts given that he may be able to aid investigations into the murder by identifying the perpetrators of the crime as well as the vehicles in which they were travelling.
Front Line believes that Oscar Kamau King'are and John Paul Oulu “GPO” were murdered because of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights, in particular their work to denounce extrajudicial executions in Kenya. Front Line is deeply concerned that this forms part of an ongoing pattern of extrajudicial executions in Kenya.