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Case History: Willie Kimani

Abducted & Killed
About the situation

The hearing of the murder trial of Willie Kimani, Joseph Muiruri and Josephat Mwenda, is scheduled from 7 to 17 November 2016. The trial will be held at Milimani High Court in Nairobi before Justice Stati.

On 1 July the body of human righs lawyer Willie Kimani was found along with that of his client and a taxi driver, after the three had gone missing on 22 June.  They had left a local court after Mr. Kimani filed a complaint of corruption against a police officer on behalf of his client.

On 18 July, four police officers were charged with three counts of murder for the deaths of Willie Kimani, Josphat Mwenda and their driver Joseph Muiruri.

About Willie Kimani

Willie KimaniWillie Kimani was a Kenyan lawyer working with the International Justice Mission, providing legal services and representation to poor people in Kenya.  At the time of his killing he was representing a client who had filed charges against a police officer for corruption.

2 July 2016
Abducted Human Rights Lawyer Found Dead

On 4 July 2016, Kenyan human rights defenders launched street protests calling for justice in the case of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani whose body was recovered from  Ol-Donyo Sabuk River, on 1 July 2016, alongside that of his client, Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver, Joseph Muiruri. The three men were abducted as they were returning home from Josephat Mwenda’s court hearing around 12:00 pm on 23 June 2016.

Willie Kimani was a human rights lawyer who was affiliated with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and who served on the board of a human rights organisation known as Rights Promotion Protection (Formerly Release Political Prisoners Trust - RPP). In his capacity as a human rights lawyer, he also worked at the International Justice Mission (IJM) in Nairobi, Kenya. The IJM is a USA-based international organisation that focuses on legal protection of vulnerable populations, including people experiencing poverty, from abuses of power at the government level.

Approximately 300 people protested in Nairobi in response to the killing of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri on 4 July 2016. The three bodies were found on 1 July 2016 in the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River, northeast of Nairobi, with apparent signs of torture including chopped-off fingers, gouged eyeballs and with their arms tied behind their backs. They had been abducted on 23 June 2016 in Nairobi following a court hearing for a complaint that Josephat Mwenda had filed after he had reportedly been shot and  injured by a police officer in April 2015. After filing a complaint against the police, Josephat Mwenda was subsequently charged with crimes of possessing drugs, gambling in public and resisting arrest. As his lawyer, Willie Kimani was defending Josephat Mwenda through all legal proceedings.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the killings of human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri and welcomes the opening of the investigation into their killing by Kenyan authorities which has led to the arrest of four police officers. Front Line Defenders believes that Willie Kimani was killed in retaliation for his peaceful, legitimate work in the defence of human rights in Kenya.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Kenya to:

1. Strongly condemn the killing of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client, Josephat Mwenda, and their taxi driver, Joseph Muiruri;
2. Continue a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of  Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda, and Joseph Muiruri, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kenya are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.