Kenya: Investigation into execution-style killings of rights activists needed

Amnesty International has called on the Kenyan government to investigate immediately the execution-style killings of two human rights activists which occurred on 5 March 2009.

The two men were shot dead in their car while stopped in traffic in the centre of Nairobi. It appeared to be a coordinated ambush. At least two gunmen fled the scene, according to eyewitnesses.

Oscar Kamau Kingara and Paul Oulu both worked with the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic (the Oscar Foundation). They campaigned against unlawful police killings and called on the police to respect human rights in their security operations against alleged members of the Mungiki – a government-banned group operating in parts of Nairobi and central Kenya.

The Oscar Foundation has filed complaints against the Kenyan government in court, and called for investigations into illegal police killings of those suspected of being members of Mungiki.

Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director Erwin van der Borght said:

“Kenya must not become a place where it is unsafe to be a human rights defender.

“The Kenyan authorities should make it clear that attacks against those who promote human rights are completely unacceptable and that anyone who carries out such attacks will be brought to justice.”

The shooting followed a live television broadcast of a statement by a government spokesperson, Alfred Mutua, stating: "Mungiki has an NGO by the name of Oscar Foundation, which they use to try and get funds from overseas.... It is a front so that they can be able to carry out their activities.”

Mr van der Borght continued:

“It is unacceptable for the Kenyan government to make statements suggesting that opposition to illegal killings by the police amounts to support for banned groups.

“The government should make it clear that this is not the case, and pledge support and protection for anyone doing legitimate human rights work – even if it amounts to criticism of government practice.”

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