July 01, 2016
Human Rights First Demands Justice for Murder of Human Rights Lawyer in Kenya
Washington, D.C. - Human Rights First today expressed its alarm over reports that human rights lawyer and International Justice Mission employee Willie Kimani was murdered along with his client and their taxi driver after they went missing following a court hearing earlier this week. The organization urged Kenyan authorities to immediately launch a thorough investigation into these deaths.
“We are deeply saddened by reports of the murders of Kimani, his client, and his taxi driver, and offer our condolences to their families and colleagues who continue to incur great risk fighting for justice and accountability," said Human Rights First's President and CEO Elisa Massimino. "It’s vital for the future of Kenya that its human rights lawyers are able to operate without fear of violence, and that the killers be swiftly brought to justice."
Kimani was a lawyer with NGO International Justice Mission in Kenya, and his body was found with that of his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri. Kimani had been representing Mwenda in a case he had brought against the police after he was shot by them during a traffic stop. The three disappeared after a court hearing; their bodies were found this morning.
During his visit to Kenya last July President Obama warned the country that “new laws and restrictions could close off the space where civil society gives individual citizens a voice and holds leaders accountable.”
"Hundreds of human rights defenders are killed or disappeared every year around the world in attacks on civil society. The Kenyan authorities should end to impunity for attacks against human rights lawyers and other activists by bringing the killers to justice regardless of who is responsible,” said Human Rights First's Brian Dooley.
For more information contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at [email protected].