Court Orders State Compensation for Family of Pakistani Journalist Killed by Police

July 9, 2024

The High Court in Kajiado has awarded Kes.10 million to the family of Arshad Sharif, a Pakistani journalist who was mistakenly shot dead by Kenyan police officers in October 2022.

Justice Stella Mutuku ruled that the use of lethal force against Sharif was both unlawful and unconstitutional, highlighting the grave misconduct of the officers involved.

Justice Mutuku criticized the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and other investigating agencies for their laxity in concluding the probe and charging the police officers responsible for Sharif’s death.

She emphasized that the State agencies named in the petition cannot escape responsibility for the death, as each has a role to play based on the relief sought by the family.

Arshad Sharif had allegedly fled Pakistan in July 2022 to avoid arrest for criticizing the country’s powerful military.

Tragically, he was shot dead in Kajiado in what the police later admitted was a case of mistaken identity. The incident occurred on October 23, 2022, when police officers claimed they were trailing a different vehicle, a Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van KDJ 700F, reportedly stolen from Pangani. However, Sharif was in a Toyota Land Cruiser (V8) KDG 200M at the time of the shooting.

Javeria Siddique, Arshad Sharif’s wife, through Advocate Dudley Ochiel, requested the court to compel the Attorney General, the DPP, the Inspector General of Police, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, and the National Police Service Commission to provide her with all documents or evidence related to the shooting. This request included films, photographs, and videotapes in their custody. She argued that the investigations and prosecutions have not delivered justice for those responsible for her husband’s killing.

The widow revealed in the petition that Sharif used to provide for his two wives, five children, and his mother. She moved to court, expressing her apprehension that the failure to investigate, arrest, or prosecute the police officers who caused her husband’s death was a cover-up and a violation of the Constitution.

State Kept Family in the Dark

In awarding the compensation, Justice Mutuku condemned the lack of updates on the investigation, describing it as imprudent to keep the deceased’s family in the dark.

By shooting the deceased in the circumstances described in this case and which shooting has been admitted save for the allegation that it was mistaken identity, the respondents violated the rights of the deceased,” she stated.

She further declared that Arshad was subjected to torture as his life was cut short without a just cause.

“The petitioners have convinced the court that Arshad’s rights were violated,” the judge declared.

“The loss of life cannot be compensated in monetary terms nor can the pain and suffering the family must have gone through. But there is consensus that compensation is an appropriate remedy for redress in violation of fundamental rights,” she added.

Justice Mutuku subsequently issued a mandatory order compelling the respondents to conclude their investigation and take appropriate action, including disciplinary measures and prosecution of the officers who shot and killed Sharif in Kajiado on October 23, if found culpable.

Additionally, she ordered the respondents to provide the petitioners with an update on the status of the investigations.

However, the award of Kes.10 million was suspended for 30 days after the state, represented by Advocate Augustine Kipkuto, informed the court that they are currently unable to make the payments.

“The amount being sought involves public funds. There is no provision for it now. Arrangements have to be made,” he said.

The judge granted his request but only suspended the order on compensation.

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