The shooting death of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya has once again raised concern about the behavior of the East African country’s police. Sharif was killed at a roadblock on Sunday as officers searched for a missing vehicle. The suspicious circumstances have caused an uproar in Pakistan, where officials say Kenyan authorities have vowed a fair and transparent investigation.
The Kenyan government has released the body of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif for burial after conducting a postmortem on how the well-known journalist was killed.
The Pakistani embassy in Nairobi said an autopsy found that Sharif died of bullet wounds to his head and shoulder, and termed the killing an accident.
Kenyan police said they were searching for a stolen vehicle with a child inside on Sunday when Sharif refused to stop his car at a checkpoint. Officers opened fire, killing the 50-year-old journalist.
Security analyst George Musamali questions the police statement that the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and notes the presence of a paramilitary police unit known as the General Service Unit at the checkpoint.
“If you are saying you are circulating my car, you need to give a brief description of the vehicle, the registration number, the make of the vehicle and the type of vehicle so whoever is out on the look can easily identify what they are out looking for”, said Musamali. “But in this case, we [were] only just given a registration numbers, we are not given the color of the vehicle. And also something else, rarely do we have the GSU manning roadblocks. When there is this kind of circulation, it does not touch on the GSU because a GSU is a unit that has its duties, special duties that do not involve erecting roadblocks to catch criminals who have stolen vehicles in Nairobi.”
In a statement, Amnesty International called for an investigation and said the death of Sharif is among nearly 110 people killed by Kenyan police each year.
The Kenyan government said it would investigate the killing and provide answers. The country’s Independent Police Oversight Authority has also deployed its officers to independently investigate the killing of the journalist.
Musamali says the judiciary should take charge of the case and police should be blocked from conducting the investigation.
“The best way to handle this is for the government to order a judicial inquiry into sudden death where people will be put through questions by a magistrate that has been appointed. This will show the ambiguity of all the stories that we are being told, but if we leave and say this is a police investigation, then we definitely will not get answers.”
Pakistani prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said Kenya promised to provide fairness and transparency into the killing.
International relations expert Kizito Sabala says the death of the journalist will not strain relations between the two countries.
“I don’t think the relationship between Kenya and Pakistan is going to be affected by this killing. I think the present regime is probably going to give a very satisfactory answer. I don’t think Pakistan is going to stretch that far.
Kenyan President William Ruto recently disbanded another police unit accused of numerous extrajudicial killings.
On Monday, four former officers of that unit went on trial, facing murder charges for the killing of two Indian nationals and their driver.