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Court rules a $78k compensation for widow of murdered Pakistani journalist by Kenya police

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In a significant ruling, a Kenyan court has granted 10 million shillings ($78,000; £61,000) in compensation to the widow of a well-known Pakistani journalist who was fatally shot by police at a roadblock almost two years ago.

Arshad Sharif, a prominent TV anchor renowned for his outspoken criticism of Pakistan’s military leaders and political corruption, had previously raised concerns about death threats he received, which he brought to the attention of Pakistan’s chief justice.

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Fearing for his safety, Sharif fled his homeland and sought refuge abroad.

Tragically, Sharif was killed by police in the Kenyan town of Kajiado two months later, sparking widespread outrage. Criticism mounted over the delayed response from authorities, prompting condemnation from UN experts directed at both Kenya and Pakistan.

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‘A relief to me and my family’

Kenya’s police initially claimed mistaken identity, but Javeria Siddique, widow of the slain journalist Arshad Sharif, asserts it was a targeted assassination orchestrated on behalf of an unidentified individual in Pakistan.

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In a landmark decision on Monday, the Kajiado High Court declared the actions of Kenyan authorities unlawful, citing violations of Sharif’s fundamental right to life. The court subsequently ordered compensation for Ms. Siddique, along with accrued interest until the full payment is made.

“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’s decision included findings that Kenya’s director of public prosecutions and the independent policing oversight authority had neglected their duties by not prosecuting the two police officers implicated in Sharif’s death. T

he court has mandated both organizations to swiftly conclude investigations and formally press charges against the officers involved.

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”.

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

“This ruling has come as a relief to me and my family, but I will not relent in getting maximum justice for my husband,” she said.

Like her late husband, Ms Siddique is a journalist and filed the lawsuit alongside the Kenya Union of Journalists and Kenya Correspondents Association last October.

She and her co-petitioners were seeking transparency, an apology, and accountability from the Kenyan authorities for what they called Sharif’s “targeted assassination”.

In an interview with the BBC, she expressed frustration over the lack of justice for her husband in Pakistan but affirmed her commitment to advocate for journalist safety.

She plans to engage international bodies like the UN and the Committee to Protect Journalists in her ongoing efforts.

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