Kenya police still not prosecuted for killings

Published on 04/06/2009

GENEVA (Reuters) – Police officers responsible for the death of more than 1,000 people following Kenya’s December 2007 elections “remain immune from prosecution 18 months later”, a United Nations human rights envoy said on Wednesday.

Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said police shootings also remain unrecorded and unaccounted for, and human rights defenders are being “systematically harassed and intimidated”.

“For all its strengths, Kenya has a major problem of extrajudicial executions and it is one which has not yet been adequately acknowledged and addressed,” the Australian law professor told the 47-member UN Human Rights Council.

Dozens of Kenyan human rights activists went into hiding or exile after receiving death threats for having collaborated with Alston on his damning February report about arbitrary police killings in the country.

In that report, Alston backed accusations that Kenyan security forces killed 500 suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki crime gang, 400 political demonstrators during a post-election crisis last year, and 200 suspected rebels from the western region of Mount Elgon.

He found the police often used the excuse that people they killed were members of the Mungiki sect, notorious for extortion and gruesome murders including beheadings.

On Wednesday, Alston stood by those conclusions and said that Kenyan police officials continued to resist efforts to investigate wrongdoing in their ranks, making them “a major stumbling block” to efforts to stop official killings and restore confidence in the country.

Nairobi’s delegation to the 47-member UN body said major efforts were underway to improve oversight of the Kenyan police.

“The Kenyan government does not condone extra-judicial killings, and there is no government policy sanctioning such a violation of the law,” its representative said.

President Mwai Kibaki was criticised for keeping silent on the Alston report when it was first released. A spokesman for the Kenyan police told Reuters earlier this year that no innocent citizen was being pursued but the Mungiki posed a deadly threat that would not be tolerated. (Reuters)

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