TORONTO, ON, Aug. 31, 2016 /CNW/ - On June 30, 2016, human rights lawyer Willie Kimani was found dead, along with his client Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver, Joseph Muiruri. Willie Kimani, a lawyer working with the International Justice Mission (IJM) and the Rights Promotion and Protection Centre, had been representing his client in a case against a police officer who allegedly shot him during a traffic stop in 2015. On June 23, 2016, Willie Kimani, his client and taxi driver were abducted after departing from a court hearing at the Movako Law Courts. Seven days later, their bodies were recovered on the bank of a river north-east of Nairobi. Moreover, post-mortem reports reveal that the trio had signs of torture including severe bleeding and fractures to the skull.
The Law Society is deeply saddened by the murders of Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri and strongly condemns these extrajudicial killings. Reports from Kenyan human rights and non-governmental organizations indicate that in recent years, there have been several hundred cases involving abuses carried out by Kenyan officials including corruption, harassment, abduction, torture and judicial killings.
On August 11, 2016, the High Court ruled that Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri were abducted and murdered by police officers. The Law Society is pleased to hear of this ruling but remains concerned about the ability of lawyers and members of the judiciary to carry out their legitimate duties.
The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of Kenya to comply with Kenya's obligations under international human rights laws, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations' Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Article 16 of the Basic Principles on Role of Lawyers states:
Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
Article 17 states:
Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
The Law Society urges the government of Kenya to:
put an end to all acts of abuses and extrajudicial killings against lawyers and human rights defenders in Kenya;
ensure that all lawyers can carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of physical violence or other human rights violations; and
ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.
*The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for more than 49,000 lawyers and 7,900 paralegals in the province of Ontario, Canada. The Treasurer is the head of the Law Society. The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.
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SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada
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