The American Bar Association has expressed concern over the killing of Kenyan human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and their driver, Joseph Muiruri.
In a letter to Robinson Githae, the Kenyan ambassador the US, the association’s president, Paulette Brown, urged the Kenyan government to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and death of the three Kenyans.
She noted that the deaths are believed to be the culmination of a campaign of intimidation and harassment towards Mwenda for asserting his basic rights and reporting on alleged police misconduct.
Ms Brown’s letter stated the abduction and murder of the victims and their lawyers simply for seeking a remedy for alleged human rights violations constitutes a serious violation of rights protected under international law and the Kenyan constitution.
“As one of the three main actors of an independent justice system, lawyers have an essential role to play in protecting human rights, in particular due process and fair trial guarantees, and ultimately contribute greatly to ensuring respect for the rule of law and democracy,” Ms Brown said in the letter.
“When citizens of Kenya cannot assert their fundamental rights and lawyers are not secure in their professions, the rule of law, which is fundamental to a just and democratic society, is abrogated.”
The association called on Kenyan government to undertake a “full, thorough and impartial investigation” into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and deaths.
It also recommended that Kenya adopts proactive policies to ensure the protection of victims of alleged police misconduct and their lawyers.
The American Bar Association, which describes itself as the voice of the legal profession in the US, is a voluntary professional membership organisation of lawyers and judges.
The association has nearly 400,000 members worldwide.