Payout for widow of Pakistani journalist killed by Kenyan police


A court in Kenya has awarded 10 million shillings (US$78,000; £61,000) in damages to the widow of a prominent Pakistani journalist who was shot dead by police at a roadblock almost two years ago.

Arshad Sharif was a television presenter known for his sharp criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military leaders and corruption in politics.

The father of five got death threats he made against Pakistan’s highest judgebefore fleeing his home country to seek safety abroad.

Sharif’s killing by police in the Kenyan town of Kajiado two months later sparked outrage, and the authorities’ slow response led UN experts to criticize both Kenya and Pakistan.

‘A relief for me and my family’

Kenyan police claimed it was a case of mistaken identity, but Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique, said it was a contract killing carried out on the orders of an unnamed person in Pakistan.

On Monday, the Kajiado High Court ruled that Kenyan authorities had acted unlawfully and violated Sharif’s right to life. It awarded Mrs Siddique damages plus interest until full payment was made.

“Loss of life cannot be compensated in money, nor can the pain and suffering endured by the family. But there is consensus that compensation is an appropriate remedy for violations of fundamental rights,” said Judge Stella Mutuku as she delivered the verdict.

The judge also ruled that Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions and the Independent Police Supervisory Authority had violated Sharif’s rights by failing to prosecute the two police officers involved. The court ordered both agencies to complete their investigations and charge the officers.

The lawyer representing Sharif’s widow, Ochiel Dudley, said: “This is a victory for the family and a victory for Kenyans in their quest for police accountability.”

Sharif’s widow, Mrs Siddique, expressed her gratitude to the Kenyan judiciary, but added that its work is far from done.

“This verdict is a relief for me and my family, but I will not give up on getting maximum justice for my husband,” she said.

Mrs Siddique, like her late husband, is a journalist. Last October, she filed a lawsuit together with the Kenya Union of Journalists and the Kenya Correspondents Association.

She and her co-plaintiffs demanded transparency, apologies and accountability from Kenyan authorities for what they called the “targeted killing” of Sharif.

She told the BBC that she had still not been able to get justice for her husband in Pakistan, but that she would continue to campaign for the protection of journalists and would seek help from the UN and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The funeral of Arshad Sharif in Islamabad, Pakistan.The funeral of Arshad Sharif in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Thousands of people attended Arshad Sharif’s funeral in Islamabad two years ago (Reuters)

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