Kenyan journalist fears assassination by UK-backed police unit

March 2, 2017

Image of a Kenyan journalist speaking into a microphone at an

A top investigative journalist in Kenya fears that British-backed police have placed him on their “kill list”, making him a “dead man walking”.

Mohammed ‘Moha’ Ali, 35, has spent years exposing extra-judicial killings by Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU).

He also revealed Western involvement in the murders, including the identification of targets for the so-called “kill list”.

Now Ali fears the elite security force is trying to silence him.

Human rights group Reprieve has written to Downing Street, urging the Prime Minister to protect Ali, stop funding Kenya’s security forces and undertake a review of UK assistance.

Ali worked as chief investigations editor at the TV channel KTN, until he was forced out by government pressure earlier this week.

Previous death threats have forced Mohammed Ali and his family into hiding and even caused him to flee the country.

The Al Jazeera Documentary Inside Kenya’s Death Squads prompted Kenya’s police chief to warn Ali that the authorities will “come for you, we will deal with you firmly.”

At least 262 extra-judicial killings by Kenya’s security forces have been reported since the start of 2015.

Despite the US suspending its support for the ATPU over human rights concerns, British backing for the police squad continues.

The Foreign Office told Parliament in February 2017 that its support for the ATPU includes equipment, “capacity building in investigative skills, operations management, forensics and evidence recovery as well as infrastructure.”

Ali’s reports have suggested the UK support may also include sharing intelligence and the identification of targets.

Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at Reprieve, said:

“For years, the US and the UK have been running their own unaccountable ‘Kill Lists’ under the guise of the failed ‘War on Terror’. Now their partners are following in their footsteps, and with their support. The result is hundreds of civilians murdered by ‘kill squads’ – funded and equipped with UK money. Mohammed Ali now finds himself in the crosshairs of these security forces, all because he alerted British taxpayers to the role their government was playing in funding these unaccountable units. Theresa May and Boris Johnson must ensure their Kenyan counter-parts call off their death squad and take Moha’s name off the kill list.”


Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [AT], or 0044 7792 351 660. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on katherine [DOT] oshea [AT]

2. Reprieve’s letter to Downing Street is available on request.