Church Renews Call for Inquest Into Kaiser Death

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CJPC) of Kenya has asked the government to announce a commencement date for an inquest into the death of Father John Anthony Kaiser.

Kaiser, a Mill Hill Missionary who was involved in social mobilisation and human rights work in Kenya, was found dead with a bullet wound to his head at Morendat, on the Naivasha-Nairobi road, 100 km north of Nairobi, on the morning of 24 August 2000.

The Church suspected foul play, as did many Kenyans and human rights groups, though security forces in Kenya and the US considered the death to have been a suicide.

In a letter dated 1 May, the CJPC of Makadara Deanery in Nairobi Archdiocese asked Attorney- General Amos Wako "to tell Kenyans why, up till now, no inquest has been conducted as required, according to the Constitution of Kenya".

The Commission reminded the government of the April 2001 call by Catholic bishops for an inquest, and thousands of petitions sent to the attorney-general on the anniversary of Kaiser's death in August.

The priest's death was but "the latest in a series of cleric and human rights activists who have died in mysterious circumstances, having clashed with government officials over their involvement in the promotion and protection of human rights," according to the Kenya Human Rights Network and the CJPC of Kenya.

In August 2001, the two groups called for an inquest into Kaiser's death, and for the Kenyan government to release the Akiwumi Commission report, which investigated the country's land clashes of 1992-97.

Kaiser had presented his views to this Commission, implicating government officials in the clashes, in the year before he died, they added.