International PEN is shocked by the murder of Weekly Citizen journalist Francis Nyaruri, who disappeared on January 15, 2009 and whose decapitated body was found on January 29. PEN is alarmed by reports that prior to his death Nyaruri was threatened by local police officers following publication of articles revealing police malpractice. It calls on the Kenyan authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into Nyaruri’s murder as a matter of urgency and to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Background Information

The following is an alert issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on  January 30, 2009:

Reporter Francis Nyaruri was found decapitated and with his hands bound on Thursday [January 29, 2009] in a forest in western Kenya. Nyaruri, who wrote for the private Weekly Citizen under the pen name Mong'are Mokua, had been missing since January 15, according to local journalists and relatives.

"We send our deepest sympathies to Francis Nyaruri's family and colleagues," said CPJ's Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes. "We call on the police to pursue all possible leads and ensure that the perpetrators of this hideous crime are brought to justice swiftly."

Nyanza deputy police Chief Larry Kieng confirmed to reporters that Nyaruri's body was found in a thicket in Kodera Forest, Nyanza Province, on Thursday, decapitated with hands tied behind his back and marks on his body. Nyaruri's wife, Josephine Kwamboka, identified her husband at a Kisii hospital, according to local reports. Kieng said a team of senior officers had been dispatched to Nyamira to investigate the murder, the private daily The Standard reported.

Prior to his disappearance, Nyaruri had written a series of articles that exposed financial scams and other malpractice by the local police department, local journalists told CPJ. The journalists said Nyaruri had told them of unspecified threats by police officers in the area for articles he had written in the
Weekly Citizen.

Nyaruri left his residence in Nyamira at about 7:30 am on January 15 and traveled 19 miles (30 kilometers) to Kisii to purchase construction materials, local journalists reported. Kwamboka told reporters that she had spoken to him at 11 a.m. the same day but did not hear from him again.

Francis Nyaruri is the second journalist killed in Kenya in the past year. In May 2008, New Zealand photographer Trent Keegan was killed by unknown assailants in Nairobi.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing shock at the murder of journalist Francis Nyaruri, who disappeared on January 15, 2009 and whose decapitated body was found on January 29;
  • Expressing deep concern at reports that Nyaruri was killed after receiving threats from local police officers following publication of articles on police malpractice, suggesting that he may have been killed for exercising his right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Kenya is party;
  • Calling on the Kenyan authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the murder as a matter of urgency, and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Send Your Letter To

Hon. Mwai Kibaki C.G.H. M.P
President of Kenya
PO Box 30510-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254-20-313600
Email: pps@statehousekenya.go.ke
Salutation: Your Excellency

Major General Mohamed Hussein Ali, M.G.H.
Commissioner of Police
PO Box 30083
Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254-20-240955
Salutation: Dear Commissioner

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Kenya in your country if possible

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after April 10, 2009: ftw[at]pen.org