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Kenyan human rights activist Caroline Mwatha found dead

Facebook page created before the discovery of the body of human rights activist Caroline Mwatha, 6 February 2019.
Facebook page created before the discovery of the body of human rights activist Caroline Mwatha, 6 February 2019. Facebook/Dendora Community Justice Centre

Human rights activists in Kenya are reeling after learning of the death of fellow activist Caroline Mwatha, whose body was found in Nairobi one week after she disappeared.

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Mwatha's co-workers at Dandora Community Justice Centre (DCJC) protested in front of Nairobi city morgue to call for an immediate independent autopsy after Kenyan police said the autopsy would be performed next Monday.

She was well-known in Dandora, a poor community in Nairobi, considered “a very important pillar in the formation and running of our justice centre… she was passionate about campaigns against police killings and police brutality,” said DCJC Coordinator Wilfred Olal in a statement.

Activists’ anger was directed at the police after Kenya Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti released a statement saying that Mwatha died from a botched back-alley abortion.

He further stated that investigators believe she died at a local clinic and her body was recorded at City Mortuary under the name “Carol Mbeki.”

Police allege that Mwatha was five months pregnant, something her father, Stanslus Mbai, does not believe to be true.

"It is a puzzle to us. Very strange because I have looked at the body. She has a deep cut on the thigh and stomach, is that abortion?" he told journalists at the mortuary.

Mbai also told the press that he had received a missed call from his daughter during the week she was missing, when she was reportedly already found dead.

"A lot is not adding up, this is a cover up," he said. "We want the truth and nothing but the truth in this. We must have an independent post-mortem to know the truth."

Amnesty International Kenya also added its voice to those pushing for answers. “We need for an independent autopsy to be done to establish the cause of death,” Amnesty International Kenya Campaigns Manager Demas Kiprono told RFI.

Police director Kinoti said six people had been arrested in connection with her death, including the alleged boyfriend.

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