Kenya Court awards Shs289m to widow of Pakistani journalist killed by police


Arshad Sharif was a well-known TV anchor and investigative journalist

A court in Kenya has awarded 10m shillings ($78,000; £61,000) in compensation to the widow of a prominent Pakistani journalist who was shot dead by police at a roadblock nearly two years ago.

Arshad Sharif was a TV anchor known for his robust criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military leaders and corruption in politics.

The father-of-five received death threats that he flagged to Pakistan’s top judge, before fleeing his home country to seek safety abroad.

Sharif’s killing two months later at the hands of police in the Kenyan town of Kajiado caused outrage, and the slow response by officials prompted UN experts to criticise both Kenya and Pakistan.

Kenya’s police had argued it was a case of mistaken identity but Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique, said it was a contract killing carried out on behalf of an unnamed individual in Pakistan.

‘A relief to me and my family’

On Monday, the Kajiado High Court rejected ruled that the Kenyan authorities had acted unlawfully and violated Sharif’s right to life. It duly awarded Ms Siddique compensation plus interest until payment in full.

“Loss of life cannot be compensated in monetary terms nor is the pain and suffering the family must have gone through. But there’s consensus that compensation is appropriate remedy for redress in violation of fundamental rights,” said Justice Stella Mutuku as she delivered the verdict.

The judge also ruled that Kenya’s director of public prosecutions and the independent policing oversight authority had violated Sharif’s rights by failing to prosecute the two police officers involved. The court has ordered both bodies to conclude investigations and charge the officers.

Reacting to the ruling, the lawyer representing Sharif’s widow, Ochiel Dudley, said “this is a win for the family and a win for Kenyans in their quest for police accountability”.

Sharif’s widow, Ms Siddique, expressed her gratitude to the Kenyan judiciary but added that her work was far from done.

“This ruling has come as a relief to me and my family, but I will not relent in getting maximum justice for my husband,” she said.

The BBC has asked the Kenyan authorities for their response to the ruling.

The police had given conflicting police accounts of Sharif’s death.

One account claimed the 49-year-old was travelling in a Toyota Land Cruiser which officers mistook for a similar vehicle that had been reported stolen.

In another version of events, police claimed that one of the car passengers had opened fire and then officers responded by shooting back.

Like her late husband, Ms Siddique is a journalist, and filed the lawsuit alongside the Kenya Union of Journalists and Kenya Correspondents Association last October.

She and her co-petitioners were seeking transparency, an apology, and accountability from the Kenyan authorities for what they called Sharif’s “targeted assassination”.

She told the BBC she was still unable to get justice for her husband in Pakistan, but would continue to campaign for the protection of journalists and would seek the help of the UN and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Source BBC.


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