Kenyan Court Declares Journalist Arshad Sharif’s Killing Unlawful

Kenyan Court Declares Journalist Arshad Sharif’s Killing Unlawful

July 8, 2024– In a critical ruling, the High Court of Kenya at Kajiado, has found the killing of prominent Pakistani journalist, Arshad Sharif, unlawful. The Court also condemned the authorities’ failure to carry out a prompt and independent investigation into the killing. Judge Mutuku stated that the authorities played a “blame game” in the hope of avoiding their obligation to investigate thoroughly.

Additionally, while recognising that monetary compensation cannot make up for life lost, or the grief experienced, the Court awarded damages to journalist, Javeria Siddique, Sharif’s widow.

Sharif, a journalist and news anchor for ARY News in Pakistan, was an ardent critic of alleged corruption within Pakistan’s ruling elite, and a vocal supporter of former President Imran Khan. This led to increased harassment by Pakistani authorities and supporters of the government, over 16 lawsuits and a series of death threats against him. Fearing for his life, Sharif fled Pakistan, eventually reaching Kenya after having faced possible deportation from the UAE.

On October 23, 2022, Sharif was fatally shot in the head by Kenyan police officers, outside a roadblock near Nairobi. While the Kenyan authorities claimed that his killing was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ in their search for a stolen vehicle, the proximity of the shooting and trajectory of the bullets led many to suspect that the killing was targeted.

More than a year after the killing, a thorough and impartial investigation has still not been carried out. This judgment is a welcome step towards challenging impunity in this case.

In addition to declaring Sharif’s killing as “arbitrary, unproportionate, unlawful and unconstitutional,” the Court determined that the authorities’ failure to conduct a thorough and timely investigation, and to prosecute those responsible for Sharif’s death, violated both constitutional norms and international standards.

Crucially, Judge Mutuku ordered Kenyan authorities to continue their investigation, and prosecute the police officers who shot and killed Arshad Sharif. Notably, they must also update Siddique on the investigation’s status. These key elements of the ruling ensure that the case and Javeria Siddique’s fight for justice do not end here.

Media Defence is proud to stand alongside Javeria Siddique in her pursuit of justice for her late husband. The High Court’s decision is a testament to her unwavering dedication despite the relentless smear campaigns and intimidation tactics she has faced.

Javeria Siddique expressed her relief and gratitude for the ruling:
“To the team at Media Defence, congratulations on winning the Arshad Sharif case in Kenya. It’s a significant victory, especially considering the circumstances surrounding his murder. Your team’s perseverance and dedication in seeking justice are truly commendable. May this outcome bring some closure and relief to us. Media Defence’s efforts have ensured that [Sharif’s] legacy and the pursuit of truth and justice continue.”

Carlos Gaio, CEO of Media Defence, highlighted the broader implications of the ruling:
“Impunity for killings of journalists is pervasive around the world. This is why fighting for justice is one of our priorities at Media Defence. We extend our appreciation to Javiera Siddique for her courage in pursuing this case, and to her lawyer in Kenya, Ochiel Dudley, for his remarkable work.”

Call for Justice

While this ruling is encouraging, Media Defence urges the Kenyan authorities to implement the judgment in its entirety. This includes carrying out an independent, prompt, and effective investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Sharif’s killing, prosecuting those responsible, and regularly updating his relatives, including Javeria Siddique, about the status and findings of the investigation. Additionally, they must swiftly and fully pay the damages awarded to her.

Media Defence also calls on Pakistani authorities to continue the case pending before the Supreme Court in relation to the threats that forced Mr. Sharif to flee the country and examine allegations of Pakistani involvement in his death.

Lastly, Siddique should be protected from the coordinated smear campaigns that aim to discredit her work and suppressing her efforts to raise awareness of Sharif’s killing.

For press enquiries or further information on the case please contact:

If you are journalist in need of support, apply for help here.

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