Kenyan police sued by widow of Pakistani journalist

Thursday October 19 2023

Arshad Sharif speaks during an event in Islamabad, Pakistan on June 22, 2022. PHOTO | AFP


The widow of a prominent Pakistani journalist who was killed a year ago in Kenya filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against an elite Kenyan police unit she accuses of the wrongful death of her husband.

Javeria Siddique said she filed the lawsuit in Nairobi to get justice for her husband Arshad Sharif, a well-known journalist in his home country Pakistan. Sharif was shot dead on October 23, 2022 by officers from Kenya's General Service Unit, according to Pakistani authorities. The officers involved in the incident later claimed it was a case of mistaken identity.

In court papers seen by The Associated Press (AP), Siddique wants Kenya’s Attorney General, the National Police Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions “to punish and prosecute the police officers who killed Arshad Sharif.”

Read: Pakistani journalist shot dead in Kenya: 5 things we know so far

The lawsuit also wants the court to direct the Attorney General “to issue a public apology, including an acknowledgement of the facts, and acceptance of responsibility to the family of Arshad Sharif within seven days of this court’s order.”

“I am suing the GSU because they committed the crime openly, then admitted that it was a case of mistaken identity. But for me it was a targeted assassination because he was living in hiding in Kenya after receiving threats in Pakistan," Siddique said in a phone interview with the AP.


“The Kenyan government never issued any apology. They never contacted us or showed any kind of kindness toward us. It is really cruel for a government to be so insensitive,” Siddique added.

Sharif, 50, was a vocal critic of Pakistan’s former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. He fled Pakistan last July to avoid arrest for criticizing the country’s powerful military and later arrived in Kenya.

Police in Nairobi said the journalist was shot and killed when he did not stop driving at a roadblock on the outskirts of the capital. The family, rights groups and Pakistani investigators countered that the killing was an assassination planned in Pakistan.

In Islamabad, police charged two Kenyan-based Pakistani businessmen, who had hosted Sharif in the country, with involvement in his killing.

Read: Pakistan agents in Kenya to probe Sharif's death

Sharif’s mother wanted the Supreme Court of Pakistan to ensure the questioning of Bajwa and other former military officials she accused of involvement in conspiring to assassinate her son.

News of the killing shook Pakistan and thousands attended Sharif’s funeral as the nation mourned last year. Sharif's friends, family and colleagues have demanded justice for him on social media and held rallies across Pakistan to draw attention to the case.

The investigators’ 592-page report, issued last year, concluded that the Kenyan police issued contradictory statements following the killing of Sharif.

Pakistan’s military has denied any involvement in the killing of Sharif and said it would support investigators examining who was behind it.

According to Kenyan police's website, the General Service Unit is tasked with providing security to the president and at strategic points, controlling civil disturbance and counterterrorism.

Kenya’s National Police Service and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, a body responsible for holding the police to account, did not respond to AP’s requests to comment on the lawsuit.