X-Judy Entry 4: Anything You Can Do, Kenya Can Do Better

I mean, seriously, folks. Let’s review the tape:

2007: The Kenya National Human Rights Commission accuses the Kenyan Police of hunting down and murdering members of the “Mungiki,” a criminal gang with political and religious pretensions. The police deny the claims, suggesting that the Mungiki have probably been murdering themselves and stashing their own corpses around the city.

2007: The Oscar Foundation, a Kenyan legal aid NGO, publishes a report on extrajudicial killings, entitled “License to Kill: Extrajudicial Killing and Police Brutality in Kenya.” Its in-depth analysis considers allegations that the Kenyan police are engaging in extrajudicial killings, torture, and other unacceptable behavior on a massive scale. (Report’s conclusion: “Oh, holy crap, are they ever.”)

June 2008: Kenyan police officer Bernard Kiriinya gives video testimony to the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission, confessing on tape to having witnessed 58 extrajudicial killings by police.

September 2008: Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights releases “The Cry of Blood,” a report on extrajudicial killings.

October 2008: Kiriinya is shot dead in Nairobi.

16-20 Feb 2009: Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, visits Kenya to investigate allegations of killings by police. He meets with Oscar Kingara and John Paul Oulu, two senior officers of the Oscar Foundation, who provide him with testimony on police killings in Nairobi and Central Province.

Feb 25th, 2009: Alston releases a damning preliminary statement, to the effect of “I notice that you have quite a large number of extrajudicial killings. Also, I noticed that no one is ever punished for them. Just saying.” (Video here.)

March 2009: Government official releases a statement accusing Oscar Foundation of having “ties” to the Mungiki. A police officer threatens to “take action” against those who had organized protests of Mungiki “supporters,” apparently in reference to rallies of students that the Oscar Foundation organized to protest extrajudicial killings of alleged Mungiki members.

A Few Days Later in March 2009: Kingara and Oulu are shot at close range while their car sits in Nairobi traffic. (Probably a complete coincidence.)

Later That Day in March 2009: After hearing the news that Kingara and Oulu have been murdered, students take the bullet-riddled car and bodies into campus, and refuse to release them to the police. A standoff follows, which eventually breaks down into rioting. Police officers “storm the campus,” firing live ammunition and tear gas. Students respond by hurling stones. One student is shot and killed by police, and eleven others are seriously injured. The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights releases a statement condemning the police for using excessive force, and noting that police had continued to shoot live bullets, even after the rioting students had been overcome and arrested. They suggest that, in the future, the police could perhaps use different tactics?

Since Then: US and UN call for investigation into the murder of Kingara and Oulu. Kenyan police think that’s a great idea, and that they totes meant to, but they’ve been so busy lately, and it just slipped their minds. But remind them next time they murder some human rights activists in cold blood, and they will definitely try to investigate things then, okay? Cool!

Amanda Taub


  1. When I grow up, I want to be a Kenyan cop! They totally know how to let people know who’s in charge. I like the way they have no interest in American style law enforcement, like (occasionally) building a case and investigating leads and blah blah blah. These guys know who’s guilty, go and shoot them and then also shoot people who don’t want to let them shoot people. Shooting people is what cops are supposed to do, right? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Kenyan cops take home the first X-Judy Award.

  2. I vote for Kenya. They shot them both on Statehouse Road, appropriately named as Kibaki is in residence there, in the middle of the day on what is arguably Nairobi’s safest road. Then blocked the ambulances from tending to them. There is an awful lot of “mungiki” shooting, meaning that you can shoot people first, then not need to ask questions, merely referring to them as “suspected Mungiki” in your police write up. Throw in new laws for press gagging, some post election violence, and I think you have a winner.

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