Police killings: Envoy wants Wako, Ali sacked


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By Cyrus Ombati and Isaac Ongiri

Commissioner of Police Hussein Ali should be sacked for overseeing a killer police force, and Attorney-General Amos Wako must resign for condoning impunity, a United Nations investigator has recommended. In a damning report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions said the AG was “the embodiment of the phenomenon of impunity in Kenya” whose resignation “is an essential first step to restoring the integrity of the office”.

Prof Philip Alston similarly indicted Maj-Gen Ali for overseeing a force that appears “free to kill at will”, and called for his sacking.

President Kibaki was not spared either: “His silence to date is both conspicuous and problematic,” said Alston, and called on him to publicly acknowledge the problem of extrajudicial executions and the need for sweeping reforms in the police force.

The military, too, got some unkind words. They were accused of maiming residents of Mt Elgon when they fought the Sabaot Land Defence Force last year.

But Alston spared the heaviest brickbats for Mr Wako, whom he identified as the chief obstacle in the prosecution of anyone in authority for extrajudicial executions.

The AG was also faulted for presiding, “for a great many years, over a system that is clearly bankrupt in relation to police killings and has done nothing to ensure that the system is reformed”.

When The Standard contacted the AG, he said he was in a meeting in Bahrain, an Arab country, and promised to call back once it ended.

But in a swift rejoinder, the Government outrightly rejected the report, saying it was in bad faith and fell far short of the principles of natural justice.

Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua said the Government rejected the report’s recommendations, including the resignation of the AG and sacking of the Police Commissioner.

The UN investigator also tore into the Judiciary and called for a radical surgery to restore public confidence. Alston said inefficiency in the Judiciary was well explained in the Waki Report on post-election violence.

“The existing court system could not conceivably bring justice in relation to post-election violence matters… an extraordinary indictment of the bankruptcy of the judicial system as it currently stands,” he said.

Systematic killings

The UN human rights expert toured Nairobi, Central, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza provinces, where the police have been accused of orchestrating systematic and unlawful killings targeting the outlawed Mungiki members and Sabaot Land Defence Force in Mt Elgon District.

Alston said the Government took too long to respond to the menace in the district despite frequent calls by residents.

On post-election violence, the UN investigator called for a special tribunal to try those implicated.

He also proposed that the “big fish” be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

“Debates to-date have treated these approaches as mutually exclusive,” said Alston, explaining: “In fact, they need not be. A special tribunal is absolutely indispensable if justice is to be done and if the appropriate lessons are to be learned before the next elections.”

He went on: “An international tribunal cannot possibly achieve justice on a broad scale in this regard.”

Alston said he doubted his recommendations would be taken seriously, and urged civil society and the public to put pressure for its implementation.

He said he had met 100 witnesses who gave strong evidence and he concluded there were “systematic, widespread and carefully planned extrajudicial executions” on a regular basis by the police.

He accused Ali of presiding over killings by his juniors who sometimes did so for private or personal reasons.

“Often, they kill in the name of crime control, but in circumstances where they could readily make an arrest,” he added.

Alston accused the police boss of denying him information on the killings, saying Ali told him there was no central data on such incidents.

He added that the Police Commissioner and senior officers were in denial over extrajudicial killings.

“But he and his colleagues appear to be the only people in the entire country who believe the claims,” he added.

Alston had no kind words either for National Security Intelligence Service officials in Bungoma. He claimed they tried to intimidate him and his team when he went to receive evidence from witnesses.

The official said police took the killings casually, and suggested that an inquiry be opened whenever a death was reported.

Macabre beheadings

The official said a police squad was particularly formed to fight the Mungiki sect and cited a Kenya National Commission on Human Rights report showing that more than 500 Mungiki youths had been killed for being members of the movement.

The Kwekwe Squad was formed in 2006 to fight the sect following macabre beheadings. But it has since been disbanded after public complaints.

He cited confessions from a former police officer, a whistle blower who has since been killed, but whose testament implicates a host of senior officials, including Ali.

Alston said the police are a law unto themselves and they kill often and with impunity, except in rare circumstances when their actions are caught on film or recorded by outsiders.

He said police justification is that the failures of the justice system leave them with no alternative. They thus administer ‘justice’ through execution of people who many times if arrested would never be prosecuted and if charged would be acquitted.

“It is equally true that the police are themselves major beneficiaries of the stunning inadequacies of the legal system,” he said.

According to him, the Government should set up a civilian police oversight body and centralise records of police killings.

Further, he told the Government that an independent Department of Public Prosecutions should replace the current one. He also recommended thorough vetting of the police to free it from officers who have involved themselves in criminal and illegal killings.

SPECIAL ENVOY’S say on…

President Kibaki:

• His silence on extrajudicial killings is both conspicuous and problematic

Amos Wako:

• Should resign to restore integrity of the office

• Independent Department of Public Prosecutions created to replace State Law Office

Police:

• Commissioner Ali Should be sacked immediately as an indication of serious commitment to ending impunity that reigns in relation to the widespread and systematic killings

• Creation of an independent civilian police oversight body with enough budget and investigatory powers to institute prosecutions against officers suspected of killing

• Centralisation of police records with a requirement that all police stations countrywide report “criminal” killings by police

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