How Human Rights lawyers are suffering around the world

According to a Kenyan government report, the number of crimes reported to the police in 2015 involving the police increased by 34 percent.

In Kenya, it is far too easy for a corrupt or incompetent police officer to frame and imprison an innocent person, who must then wait in jail, often for years on end, for a chance to prove his or her innocence.

This corrupt system has packed Kenyan prisons full of innocent men and women with no way out and no lawyer to fight for their release—and the police who abuse their power are not held accountable.

Willie Kimani was working to protect the innocent from such abuse, and he was murdered while courageously pursuing that mission.

On June 23, 2016, Willie Kimani, a Kenyan human rights lawyer and father of two, went to a Nairobi courthouse, accompanying Josephat Mwenda, also Kenyan, in his defense against blatantly false charges by an abusive police force.

The bodies of Willie, Josephat and their driver, Joseph Muiruri, were found in the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River eight days later.

The murderers of Willie, Josephat and Joseph must be prosecuted and sent to prison for this horrific violence. The ultimate well-being of Kenya and its citizens hangs in the balance.

Willie Kimani is not the only human rights lawyer who has been targeted by their own government for speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. 

There are many human rights lawyers and human rights defenders in unstable countries who are routinely targeted and brutally tortured, as in the cases of Gao Zisheng in China.

According to this BBC Report: Prominent Chinese dissident and human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has broken his silence to describe how he was allegedly tortured and kept in solitary confinement while in detention.

The 51-year-old lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, said he was tortured with an electric baton to his face and spent three years in solitary confinement.

Mr Gao is known for defending members of the Falun Gong movement and Chinese Christians. "Every time we emerge from the prison alive, it is a defeat for our opponents," he told the Associated Press from his home in Shaanxi province.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government's crackdown on Chinese defence lawyers did not end with the Gao Zhisheng's release from prison. If anything, Mr Gao's persecution represents the start of a wide-ranging campaign.

According to Amnesty International, 245 Chinese lawyers have been targeted by police in 2014 alone. Thirty are still missing or remain in police custody. 

Many of the detained lawyers endured weeks of interrogation. Their families have been harassed, their homes and offices raided. Some have experienced violent beatings.

Human rights defenders such as Tran Thi Hong in Vietnam are also illegally detained and interrogated. 

As reported by the Unitd Nations High Commisisoner for Human Rights; two United Nations human rights experts called on the Government of Viet Nam to stop the persecution of Ms. Tran Thi Hong in June of this year.

Ms. Tran Thi Hong has been repeatedly arrested and tortured as retaliation for informing the international community of human rights violations against her husband, who is in prison for peaceful religious activities.

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, also urged the Vietnamese authorities to put an end to all persecution and harassment, including criminalization, against religious leaders and human rights defenders, women rights defenders and members of their families.

Ms. Tran, spouse of imprisoned Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, was initially arrested on 14 April 2016. She was tortured and warned to stop her activities promoting freedom of religion. Since then, Ms. Tran Thi Hong has been repeatedly arrested and harassed by the authorities, who are trying to force her to ‘cooperate’ with the Government.

“We are concerned that the repeated arrests and the continuing detention of Ms. Tran resulted from her peaceful human rights work and exercise of her fundamental rights, which constitutes arbitrary detention,” the experts said calling for her unconditional release.

Her husband, has been in prison since 2011 for his religious activities as director of the Vietnam-U.S. Lutheran Alliance Church, which is considered as ‘anti-Government’ and ‘anti-communist’ by the authorities. In prison, he has been subjected to torture and deprived of contact with his family.

“The Vietnamese Government has the obligation to respect the right of religious communities to organize themselves as independent communities and to appoint their own leaders,” said Special Rapporteur Bielefeldt.

The UN Special Rapporteurs stressed that “Viet Nam should release Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and Ms. Tran Thi Hong, as well as all persons detained for their legitimate activities in the defence of human rights.”

“The severe beating, by authorities who did not identify themselves, amounts to torture and must be investigated and those responsible held accountable, in accordance with Viet Nam’s international human rights obligations,” Mr. Méndez, added. 

The persecution of human rights lawyers most recently has resulted in even murder as in the case of IJM lawyer Willie Kimani in Kenya.

These brave human rights defenders are targeted simply for speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Human rights lawyers around the world need your support and deserve to advocate free from the threat of torture, imprisonment and death!

Sign the petition here to force the Kenyan President to bring Willie Kimanis' murderers to justice!

Sign this petition now to ensure this tragedy is a turning point in the fight for #JusticeinKenya.

We are asking the Kenyan government to:
1. Ensure the identification and meaningful prosecution of everyone involved with the murders of Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri; and
2. Immediately remove Samuel M. Arachi from his post as Deputy Inspector General of the Administration Police in Kenya, on behalf of every innocent person abused by his police force.

For more information, go to:
www.IJM.org/JusticeinKenya 

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