Faculty of Advocates pledges support for Kenyan rights following murder case

In the midst of questions over police abuses in Kenya, international pressure for justice grows

THE Faculty of Advocates in Scotland has sent a message of support to lawyers in Kenya who have taken part in nationwide protests in defence of the rule of law.

Kenya is often praised as a beacon of democratic stability in east Africa, but recent crushed demonstrations and recklessness by police have led to questions about whether the benchmarks of their nation’s progress are being eroded.

Protests were held following the murders of a human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client, Josephat Mwenda and a driver, Joseph Muiruri. 

On 30 June, their bodies, which showed signs of torture, were found in a river to the north-east of the capital, Nairobi.

“We also call upon the Kenyan authorities to strengthen efforts towards accountability.” Rupert Colville

Gordon Jackson QC, Dean of Faculty said: “We have contacted the Law Society of Kenya to let them know that we are thinking of them and will support them in their struggle to uphold the rule of law, a cornerstone of a democratic society.

“We strongly support calls for the effective protection of Kenyans by the courts, legal professionals and public authorities.

The murdered driver, Muiruri, had become known to two members of Faculty in Scotland, Neil Mackenzie and Eric Robertson, when they visited Nairobi separately last year to take part in the training of independent prosecutors.

“Let the deaths of these three men be a turning point for the rule of law in Kenya.” Gordon Jackson QC

Kimani, the prosecutor, was abducted after appearing in court case as part of a Mwenda defence team against charges brought by police. The deaths are said to have the hallmarks of extrajudicial killings by the police. Three police officers have been held in connection with the murders.

The Faculty of Advocates is the professional body to which all licensed independent lawyers in Scotland belong. The body promotes and supports the administration of justice, representation and the rule of law in Scotland but has had a role in training advocates from a number of countries including Kenya.

“We strongly support calls for the effective protection of Kenyans by the courts, legal professionals and public authorities.” Gordon Jackson QC

There are many international partners – particularly the US, UK and Swedish governments who finance Kenyan police reform programmes.

A statement written by the Swedish Ambassador to Nairobi Johan Borgstam said: “Our diplomatic missions have offered law enforcement assistance to the Government of Kenya in this matter. 

“Human rights defenders play a key role in promoting human rights and strengthening the rule of law, and we are committed to supporting their work and protecting them.”

No extra comment was given by the Foreign Office or the UK Ambassador in Nairobi.

“We strongly support calls for the effective protection of Kenyans by the courts, legal professionals and public authorities.” Gordon Jackson QC

Gordon Jackson QC added: “News of the three killings was shocking. 

“As an independent bar we are committed to the highest ethical and professional standards and to the protection of all citizens under the rule of law.

“Let the deaths of these three men be a turning point for the rule of law in Kenya.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, condemned the killing of the lawyer and two others, and said cases of extrajudicial killings should not be treated casually.

“It is imperative to throw full light on what happened and to establish all responsibilities related to these atrocious murders. 

“We also call upon the Kenyan authorities to strengthen efforts towards accountability,” said Colville.

Picture courtesy of The Law Society of Kenya

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