Kenyan court orders its govt to pay compensation to Arshad Sharif's family

Shooting of Pakistani journalist by police in 2022 was arbitrary and unconstitutional, court rules

This image shows slain Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif. — AFP/File
This image shows slain Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif. — AFP/File
  • Kenyan High Court rules killing as "arbitrary", "unconstitutional".
  • Judge orders action against police officers found culpable.
  • Ruling comes after Sharif’s widow sued Kenyan officials.

LONDON/NAIROBI: A court in Kenya has awarded 10 million shillings ($78,000 or Rs21.7 million) in compensation to the widow of prominent Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif who was shot dead by the police at a roadblock in the Kenyan town of Kajiado nearly two years ago.

The Kenya police had argued Arshad Sharif’s killing was a case of mistaken identity but Sharif's widow and journalist Javeria Siddique had launched a petition at the Kajiado High Court – with help from Kenya Union of Journalists and Kenya Correspondents Association - arguing that it was a contract killing carried out on behalf of certain unnamed individual in Pakistan.

In a detailed judgment of 45 pages, the Kajiado High Court on Monday ruled that the Kenyan authorities had acted unlawfully and violated Sharif's right to life. It duly awarded 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.

The high court in Kajiado rejected police claim that the killing was a case of mistaken identity and that officers believed they were firing on a stolen vehicle involved in an abduction.

The judge said: “The use of lethal force against Arshad Sharif by shooting him on the head was arbitrary, unproportionate, unlawful and unconstitutional."

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.”

Siddique, the widow of Sharif, said that she was happy with the decision the Kenyan Court in Kajiado County had made but added that she was still unable to get justice for her husband in Pakistan.

Siddique said that she decided to chase justice at a personal level after realising that no one was willing to assist her.

“I did this alone and got some help from a few media houses,” she told Geo News.

It is worth noting that it was Siddique who in 2022 broke the news of the journalist's death through a post on social media.

She said that the ruling was important and the verdict had restored faith in the Kenyan Judicial system.

“As the widow of Arshad Sharif, this has been a very long and painful journey in the quest for justice. Today, Arshad Sharif, his family and the people of Pakistan stand vindicated as there is accountability for the murder of a national hero,” she said.

Siddique said that her husband was a man who during his career as a journalist in Pakistan stood for the truth and also exposed all sorts of evil in society.

According to her, Kenyan court system had served justice to the family while back in Pakistan so little was being done to ensure that she gets the same.

The court documents filed at the Pakistan's Supreme Court indicate that Riffat also wants a number of people investigated over the murder of her son who died aged 49.

“That being the mother of Arshad Sharif now deceased, the applicant feels that investigations of the case have to be conducted and proceeded within Pakistan at the first instance where conspiracy to kill my son was hatched,” the court documents seen by these reporters show.

Filed on June 6, 2023, under number three of 2022, the mother of slain journalist said that she was disturbed that so many people had sensationally claimed that the people who wanted her son dead were well known.

She said that there was a need for her team of lawyers to be handed access to the fact-finding inquiry report and findings which were submitted by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which was tasked with following up on the matter.

Geo News had revealed in August last year the five Kenyan police officers, who were involved in the killing of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif, have quietly resumed their official duties without any action being taken against them. The five police officers involved in the brutal killing are enjoying full police perks and their suspensions have turned out to be only a whitewash by the Kenyan authorities.