Statement by the Kenya Human Rights Commission on the death penalty and extra judicial killings or arbitrary killings in Kenya at the 60th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Niamey, Niger

Madam Chairperson,

While the Kenya Human Rights Commission welcomes the report by the Chairperson of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra Judicial Executions in Africa, we would like to draw the Commission’s attention to the following;

Kenya has for a long time been considered to be a de-facto abolitionist of the death penalty with the last execution having been done in 1986. Despite the enactment of sentencing guidelines by the then Chief Justice of Kenya in 2015, Courts of law in Kenya continue to pass the death penalty for offences that carry the mandatory death sentence as was evident in the decision of the Court of Appeal in [1]Joseph Njuguna Mwaura & 2 others vs Republic[2].While the Kenya Human Rights Commission welcomes the President’s decision to commute 2747 convicts from death sentences to life imprisonment;

 

 We urge the Commission to;

  • Call on the Government of Kenya to ratify the second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty.

Madam Chairperson, distinguished guests;

Between 2014 to March 2017, there have been over 487 cases of extra judicial executions by the Police in Kenya in the pretext of maintaining law and order, crowd control management and countering violent extremism. This widespread pattern of extra judicial executions by the Kenyan police is a serious concern for a state that purports to adhere to the rule of law. The extra judicial execution of Kwekwe Mwandaza in Mombasa, Willie Kimani, a lawyer with the International Justice Mission and lately young man in Nairobi’s East Leigh on the 31st of March 2017 are just some of the many cases documented by Civil Society Organizations and the Media. In response to the East Leigh incident, the Nairobi Police Commander Japheph Koome defended the killings stating and I quote:

“The same gangsters shot dead an officer yesterday. Tell all gangsters out there that when they kill an officer, I am ruthless and they will get it from me.”

This is a clear demonstration of how those charged with maintaining law and order have discharged their duties with impunity and is an indication of the states non commitment to comprehensively address this systemic gross human rights violations.

 

We urge the Commission to:

  • recommend the Government of Kenya to institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Extra Judicial Executions.
 

[1] [2013]EKLR

Thank you.


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