ILC Africa calls on Kenyan president to fulfill his promise of tracking down the criminals
Nairobi, Kenya. The International Land Coalition is saddened and appalled by the killing of land and environment defender Ms. Joanna Stutchbury, 67, who was murdered at 10pm local time, on Thursday, 15 July 2021, as she returned home. “She was shot 6 times, 3 times on the head,” Government pathologist Johanssen Oduor said five days later.
Joanna Stutchbury worked tirelessly to defend the Kiambu forest and protect and conserve Kenya's natural resources. For over two decades she had spoken out against land-grabbers and well-known private developers who had excised part of the Kiambu Forest. She received multiple death threats because of her work to protect the forest from encroachment.
Joanna’s killing is only one of several violent deaths of conservationists in recent years: previous killing of environmental activists in similar circumstances, including Esther Mwikali, Esmond Bradley Martin, Jomo Nyanguti and Robert Kirotich have remained unresolved
The killing of Joanna must be fully and transparently investigated, those responsible must be brought to justice, and the Kenyan government must act swiftly to implement national policies that ensure the land and environmental defenders community can continue their legitimate work without the fear of reprisal as they defend Kenya's environment and natural resources.
We call for speedy investigations by authorities to ascertain the following: (i) Who killed Joanna? (ii) What was the motive of her killing? (iii) Is the killing linked to her work and more so to her campaign against the development of wetlands in a national park? (iv) What is the next course of action to ensure Joanna and her kin get justice? And what should be done to protect Joanna’s colleagues who are seeking justice for the victims of human rights violations.
We call on President Uhuru Kenyatta to fulfill his promise the day after the killing to “apprehend the criminals behind the killing of Joanna.” We rely on the support of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the international community to join us in achieving a speedy investigation into the murder of environmentalist Joanna.