The Current

Advocacy News + Updates

Last July, you stood with us when IJM investigator and human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, and two friends, Joseph Muiruri and Josephat Mwenda, were abducted and murdered. You helped spark a global outcry for #JusticeinKenya and an end of police abuse of power through this ongoing petition.

Five alleged perpetrators are in custody. The second phase of the trial began on February 13, 2017. We invite you to join us in keeping IJM’s Kenya team, and the families of those who were murdered, lifted up in prayer. We'll share news and prayer updates right here to keep you informed over the course of the trial.


Friday, April 07, 2017

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update IV

What Happened This Week? 

The trial for the murder of Willie, Joseph, and Josephat continued this week, Justice Jessie Lessit of Milimani High Court presiding. All five accused remain in custody.

Four witnesses testified this week. On Monday, a police sergeant and a civilian testified on aspects of the early investigation. On Tuesday, a woman testified to identify of Joseph Muiruri’s car that was dumped outside her house after the abduction. Next, a police officer testified about the undercover police unit to which the five accused belonged, and confirmed that when he dropped two of the accused off at the police station on June 22, one of the accused had his police radio with him.

The defense counsels challenged the order in which the prosecution and defense have been examining witnesses. Currently the lawyer representing the victims and their families has been the last to ask questions, as was agreed in pre-trial.

What’s Next

The judge directed the defense to make a formal written application to challenge the order of witness examination, and the trial is adjourned until April 24, 2017, when both parties will appear to make oral arguments. This means that eight days of hearings which were scheduled over the next two weeks will have to be rescheduled. The judge will likely rule on the application from the defense on April 2 or 26, as well as set the next hearing dates.

We will continue to update this LIVE blog report as the trial continues.

Pray With Us

  • Thank God for the continued cooperation between IJM lawyers and the prosecutor.
  • Pray that the trial will be rescheduled to consecutive dates in May and June, and that there are no further delays to hearings.

Friday, March 31, 2017

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update VIII

What Happened This Week? 

The trial proceeded this Monday (March 27) with Justice Lessit presiding. Four witnesses testified, bringing the total number of witnesses who have testified to 22.

Dr. Johansen Oduor, the government pathologist, testified on the cause of death for the three victims. He identified injuries indicating that the victims had resisted a violent attack, forming the conclusion that Willie and Josephat’s deaths were caused by blunt force trauma. As for Joseph, the pathologist concluded that he died from strangulation and head injury from blunt force trauma.

Three police witnesses testified on various aspects of the case. The first, a chief inspector, confirmed that a specific police radio was issued to one of the accused.

The second witness was a constable at the camp where Willie, Joseph and Josephat were held in a container cell. The constable confirmed receiving keys to the cell from one of the accused on the night of June 23rd. The corporal testified that the accused told him there were no detainees in the cell and that it remained locked after that handover.

The third witness, a corporal, was at the Mavoko Law court where Willie, Joseph and Josephat were kidnapped, on June 23rd. He testified to allowing an associate of one of the accused to use his phone to make a call.

What’s Next

The trial was adjourned on March 30, and will continue on April 3, when the prosecution will continue to call witnesses to testify.

Pray With Us

  • Pray for the family members of the deceased, for healing as they continue hearing heartbreaking details of the deaths of their loved ones.
  • Pray as the trial continues for truthful testimonies from witnesses, and for the trial to continue moving forward without delays.

Friday, March 24, 2017

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update VII

What Happened This Week?

The trial proceeded on Wednesday this week, with Justice Lessit presiding. Four witnesses testified, bringing the total number of witnesses who have testified to 18.

Emotional testimony was shared by the three family members who identified the bodies of Willie, Joseph and Josephat. A police officer then testified that one of the accused took over after his shift on June 23, 2016, confirming that the accused was on duty at the Syokimau Camp at the time of the murders.

When the trial commenced on Thursday, one of the accused informed the court he was ill and unable to continue. The judge adjourned until 27 March, but warned the defendant against feigning sickness.

Last week, the defense requested permission to recall seven witness that had already testified. Justice Lessit ruled that only 2 witnesses could be recalled, as long as the prosecution agreed. This week, the defense withdrew their request, stating they would not recall any of the previous witnesses.

What’s Next

The trial will run for four days next week, beginning on Monday, March 27. 

Pray With Us

  • Pray for the families of the deceased and the entire IJM Kenya team as they hear very difficult and emotional evidence shared in court.
  • Pray for the trial to continue to run smoothly, and that there would be no unnecessary delays.

Friday, March 17, 2017

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update VI

The Trial Continues

The trial for the murder of Willie, Joseph and Josephat resumed in February, with Justice Lesit presiding.

So far, 14 witnesses have testified for the prosecution. This included testimony from a forensic document examiner, who confirmed that a note written to Josephat’s wife requesting help was in Willie's handwriting. Several witnesses provided testimony that they had seen men matching the description of three of the accused at the crime scene.

The defense requested seven witnesses to be recalled for further cross-examination. The prosecution objected, arguing that it would be an unnecessary delay to the case, and not provide any additional useful information. The judge ruled it unnecessary to recall all seven witnesses. The judge did grant that the two civilian witnesses who received the note from Willie could be recalled at the discretion of the prosecution.

Kenyan media has continued to cover the trial.

What’s Next

The prosecution have reduced the number of witnesses they plan to call from 60 to 36, meaning that 22 more witnesses have yet to testify. The trial is set to continue on March 22 and 23, with testimony from family members. Then, we expect evidence from the pathologist and radiologist. The trial is expected to proceed through April.

Pray With Us

  • Praise God that the case has proceeded without major hitches to date and that the witnesses have provided strong testimony.
  • Pray for peace and calmness for IJM staff and the families of the victims in the coming week as evidence from the crime scene will be shared which is likely to be traumatic.
  • Pray that the media will continue covering this story and keep the public interest. We are praying that this case will be a turning point to police impunity in Kenya.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update V

There's a new blog from IJM's Director of System Reform in Kenya, Wamaitha Kimani. In "Stand Up! For Willie, Joseph and Josephat—" Wamaitha calls on each of us, and most of all, her fellow Kenyans, to stand with her for justice. 

Read the new blog here.

Additionally, IJM has partnered with Kenyan hiphop artist, Juliani, to create the sound of the movement: Machozi Ya Jana.

Download the song here.

Machozi Ya Jana

(Yesterday’s Tears)

By Juliani

[Verse 1]

Inauma hii side ya left ya chest (It aches on the left side of my chest)

Naomba boxes zingine za handkerchief (Please give me more boxes of handkerchiefs)

Machozi iligeuza mchanga matope, penye m’me rest (Tears turned the soil to mud where you all now rest.) 

Hii si WhatsApp group unaeza rudi uki-left (This isn't a WhatsApp group you can return when you "left")

Waliwakata mabawa, usifly again (They cut your wings, you can't fly again.) 

Clouds ni grey, nguo ni black, macho ni red

Colours za pain

(Clouds are grey, dressed in black, eyes are red. The colours of pain.) 

It takes a long day kujua life ni short (It takes a long day to know life is short)

Life haina remote unaeza fast forward ama u’rewind to a happier episode (Life has no remote control, we can't fast forward or rewind to a happier episode.)

Machozi ya jana haigandi (Yesterday's tears won’t go sour)

Tutapanguza na furaha ya justice. (We will wipe them with the celebration of justice.) 

[Chorus]

They took you away,

Hatuko nawe,

Lala, lala salama

(They took you away. We don't have you anymore. Rest well.)

Hatuko nawe

They took you away

Tutapatana

Machozi ya jana

(We aren't with you. They took you away. We will meet again. Yesterday's tears.) 

[Verse 2]

Nilijaribu ku’ji convince hauko huku juu ya mapenzi ya Mungu (I tried to convince myself you're not here by God's will)

Ukweli ni roho ya statue ndani ya watu, sababu (Truth is, it's because of the hardened hearts in men, because...)

Seriousness ya poisonous snake, tusiipuuze ka cuteness ya pet (The seriousness of a poisonous snake, shouldn't be dismissed like the cuteness of a pet.)

Kwa mkono mngekimbilia ndio mliangamia (By the hand you should have ran to for help, you met your death)

Hamku nuia mlo waliwaandalia. (You had no clue what they planned for you.)

 Sound ya glass za champagne, ikigonga cheers, impunity ikicelebrate (The sound of glasses of champagne, toasting as impunity celebrates)

Itatizwe na sauti ya nyundo kwa court, waki-face judgement. (It will be cut short by the gavel in court as they face judgement.) 

Iwe funzo kwa wenye tabia kama hio (It'll be a lesson to others like them)

Mwizi wa uhai hukumu sio kuchunwa sikio, (for the one who robs life, the penalty cannot be pinching the ear.) 

[Chorus]

[Bridge]

Ewe Mungu wajua njia zangu yatengeze (Lord you know my ways, straighten my path)

Yale siwezi yasongeze (What I cannot handle, take away.)

Wewe ndiye nguvu ya wanyonge x 2. (You are the strength of the weak.)

Nalilia yatima, wajane kama Hannah, ma spouse (I cry for the orphans and widows, like Hannah, the spouses)

Damu crying for justice, ita-run ka maji kwa mfereji State House. (The blood crying for justice will run like water in the taps of State House)

More than hash tags, placards (It's more than hashtags and placards)

Si waiter tu ndio waingie behind bars (Not just waiters should be behind bars.) 

Enough is Enough

Ujuzi ya nurse haisaidii ndani ya hearse (The skill of the nurse has no value in the hearse)

Usiblame mguu for destination, ni kichwa iliipatia direction (Stop blaming the legs for the destination. The head gave the direction.)

Stay with us for more updates as the trial resumes this month.


Friday, November 11, 2016

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update IV

The First Witnesses

The day began with the defence counsel's cross-examination of the first witness, whose testimony sought to establish the circumstances leading up to the deaths of Willie, Josephat and Joseph. When this was concluded, the prosecution called their second witness to the stand. For both witnesses, the court operated with caution to ensure safety. Photographs and video of the first witness were prohibited, and for the second, the media and members of the public were ordered to clear the courtroom because of witness protection.

An Ongoing Outcry

The news of the murders of the three and their bodies being dumped in a river earlier this year sparked an ongoing national outcry that echoed around the world, demanding justice and police reform in Kenya (IamWillie.co.ke).

More in January

The case has now adjourned, and is expected to resume in January. We'll continue our LIVE blog updates then, and ask for your continued prayers and support for justice in this case and police reform in Kenya.

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable."

—Kenyan Proverb


Thursday, November 10, 2016

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update III
An anxious crowd waits patiently outside the Nairobi High Court for commencement of the hearing of the WJJ case. The huge turnout included law students from Kenyan universities, who had come to follow the high-profile case. The courthouse was so packed that some had to be asked to leave.

The Trial Commences

The courthouse was packed, the lawyers sported their purple ribbons and the day began with a general feeling of anxiety over whether or not the trial would yet again be delayed—but at last, Mr. Ombeta, the counsel for the defense, was present.

Lawyers in the case of the WJJ case, prior to the hearing’s commencement. Some wear the purple ribbon, to show solidarity with the victims concerned in this case. Mr. Ombeta, counsel for the defense, is second from the right, in the pink tie.

Mr. Ombeta offered his apologies to the court, which the judge accepted, although some lawyers present felt that his three-day absence on account of being ill had caused undue delay.

The First Testimony

The trial commenced with the testimony of the first witness from IJM, who requested that his identity not be shared. Mr. Mutuku, the prosecutor, led the cross-examination of the IJM witness, and the counsel for the defense will begin cross-examination tomorrow morning.

Please Pray With Us

  • Thank God that ...
    • The trial proceeded today.
    • The witness who testified today.
  • Pray that...
    • The trial continues tomorrow.
    • God would grant peace and confidence to the witness scheduled to testify tomorrow.
    • There would be continued commitment from the judge, prosecution and stakeholders involved.

What We Said in July: A Call for Justice

“Today, we have four Administration Police charged with murder after a three-week investigation, and that hasn’t happened in the history of Kenya. This marks an important occasion for police accountability in our country. We still believe there are more perpetrators involved in the deaths of our colleagues, and we ask that authorities do everything in their power to bring them to justice. We will not stop pursuing an end to the daily abuse of the poor and vulnerable by the very individuals appointed to protect them.” 

—James Kironji, Director of Casework for IJM Kenya


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update II

Déjà vu

The scene at Milimani High Court was similar to that of yesterday morning, with the courtroom filled with people and lawyers wearing purple ribbons lining the aisles. As before, the suspects entered at 9:30 AM, looking pensive and whispering animatedly to each other over the course of the morning. And—again—the defense counsel began by putting up a spirited argument for adjournment. 

Until Thursday

"Contrary to our request, I note that the defense counsel has not shared documents to show that he has been hospitalized," said Justice Sitati, accusing the counsel for the defense, Mr. Ombeta, of delaying justice. "I adjourn the hearing to Thursday and trust that the defense counsel, Mr. Ombeta, will attend court then, or send another lawyer. If not, we will appoint a new lawyer for the three suspects that Mr. Ombeta was representing, and take disciplinary action against him."

Please Pray With Us

  • Thank God that ...
    • The case came up again today, and that the court established a firm plan for moving forward, notwithstanding the continued absence of the defense counsel.
    • The good support from the community—including the Kenyan legal community—in court today.
  • Pray that...
    • The court will proceed on Thursday as planned, and that the judge will be firm in not allowing another adjournment.
    • The trial witnesses and families of the victims will have patience and perseverance through this difficult waiting period.

"IJM exists to protect the poor from violence, and Willie's life was taken while courageously pursuing that mission."

—Gary Haugen, IJM Founder and CEO


Monday, November 7, 2016

News from Nairobi, Kenya | WJJ Case | Update I

A Request for Adjournment

The day was bright and sunny, and by 9:30 AM, the five accused persons had been brought into the courtroom at Milimani High Court. The room was packed to capacity with journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, IJM staff members, relatives of the victims and friends. Several of the lawyers donned purple ribbons to show solidarity and support.

All were gathered for the start of the much-anticipated trial on the case of the murders of Willie, Joseph and Josephat (the "WJJ case"), which was slated to begin this morning, but court proceedings began with a request for a delay. A representative of the defense informed the court that their lead lawyer, Cliff Ombeta, had been taken ill and could not attend court. They asked for a three-day adjournment. 

The judge, Lady Justice Ruth Sitati, marked the casual manner in which this request had been made and directed that the hearing would continue tomorrow, instructing Mr. Ombeta to "send a representative if he is unable to attend court."

Moving Forward

The case has attracted media and public interest, given how the victims met their deaths. After the case proceeds this week, the trial is scheduled (tentatively) to continue January 9-13, 2017.

Please Pray With Us

  • Thank God that the case came up today and that a well-respected and experienced judge, from outside of Nairobi, has been appointed to lead it. She delt firmly and fairly with the absence of defense counsel. 
  • Pray that ...
    • The court will proceed well tomorrow, and for all the legal representatives to be present.
    • The witnesses coming to testify tomorrow will do so well, and that they will not be anxious for their safety.
    • The WJJ case will be a turning point for ending police impunity and extrajudicial killings in Kenya.
    • There will be continued healing and peace of mind for the families of Willie, Joseph and Josephat as they hear the testimonies that will begin to come out tomorrow.

Come back here tomorrow for more updates from Nairobi.

Find Out More About IJM Kenya and Police Abuse of Power

  • Find out more about our team in Kenya and their continuing fight against injustice.
  • Watch Joseph's Story, and get a deeper undertanding of the issue of police abuse of power and how IJM is working to end it.


Resource: Kenya Trial Prayers

As part of their daily rhythms during the trial, our Kenya team will be using specific prayers each morning as they begin the work day, and each evening after they debrief the day's events. Our hope is that these will help the team enter and exit these difficult workdays with a counsious sense of God's presence. As many of you will be praying along with the team, we thought it might be meaningful for you to have the same prayers the Kenya team will be using. Perhaps you might consider using them at the beginning and end of your workday, or with your family at the breakfast and dinner table.

Access the prayers here.

Check back here for LIVE updates from Kenya as the case and the campaign for justice moves forward.