KENYA:Outrage: Country reacts to police killings

The Government appeared cornered on the eve of the first anniversary of the National Accord as the outrage over police extrajudicial killings hit a crescendo countrywide. From diplomatic circles to the civil society, they were as unanimous as they were eloquent in their rejection of gross human rights violations that have gone on for years. But even in the wave of criticism, the Government appeared divided over what to make of the findings of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or

Whereas the Ministry of Defence dismissed the report released on
Wednesday by Prof Alston as "full of lies", the Justice ministry said
the Government agreed with some of the findings.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said the Government would not implement recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur.

In Nairobi, the civil society sounded war drums and demanded immediate
action on Alston's findings or else they organise mass action to demand
the resignation of Attorney-General Amos Wako and the sacking of
Commissioner of Police Hussein Ali.

Thirteen diplomatic missions in Nairobi welcomed the findings of the
now controversial report and asked the Government to consider what
action it would take.

"We consider his mission an important element in efforts to ensure that
the Kenyan reform agenda remains on track," they said in a statement
read by the Netherlands Ambassador to Kenya, Laetitia van den Assum.

The envoys said ending impunity for acts committed by State officials
forms an indelible part of the commitments undertaken as part of the
Kenyan National Reconciliation Act.

The diplomats said action on the report and security reform elements of
the Waki Report and Agenda Four, particularly the formation of the
police reform group and Independent Police Complaints Commission, would
constitute the Government's commitment to reforms.

"This would constitute a clear signal that the Government is committed
to reform and that it does not hesitate to show leadership in
eradicating impunity and its pervasive effects on the country and
citizens," read part of the statement.

Diplomats from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany,
Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United
States attended the Press conference at a city hotel.

One of Alston's far-reaching recommendations was AG Wako's resignation
and sacking of Commissioner Ali, saying they were faces of impunity.
Alston also called on President Kibaki to acknowledge extra-judicial
killings and address the problem.

And in a move that is likely to ruffle feathers in sections of
Government, the envoys vouched for the establishment of a local special
tribunal to try suspects of post-election violence.

"We share Dr (Kofi) Annan's sentiments that failure by the Government
and Parliament to create a special tribunal will constitute a major
setback in the fight against impunity and may threaten the whole reform
agenda," said Ms Assum.

The envoys said the raging debate on whether suspects of post-election
violence should be tried locally or at The Hague lacked transparency
and inclusivity, and urged for wider consultation.

The tribunal should be independent and reinforced by international representation with a protection programme, they said.

"Judicial reform and action against corruption should be urgently
considered as a further means to rebuild confidence," said the
diplomats.

Yesterday, the National Civil Society Congress demanded the resignation of Ali and Wako or else they organise mass protests.

Congress President Morris Odhiambo and Release Political Prisoners
Executive Director Stephen Musau threatened to call nationwide
demonstrations if the two do not quit.

Master of denial

Musau said Wako could not be trusted to deliver much-needed reforms.
"Under his watch, many high profile cases have been lost and
individuals killed while little is done to arrest suspects," he said.

Musau called Ali "a master of denial" for dismissing claims that police officers were behind the killings.

"It is in black and white: The police force is guilty of the killings.
Kenyans cannot be fooled in a bid to protect the image of a tainted
force," said Musau. But Defence Assistant Minister Joseph Nkaissery
denied that the military was involved in human rights violations in Mt
Elgon District.

"Our soldiers are by any standards very disciplined and well-trained in
human rights. Alston's findings were amazing and, indeed, unacceptable.
In fact, he lied," Nkaissery said.

He explained that the role of the military in situations like that in
Mt Elgon is well explained in the Constitution. "We were facilitators.
The rest was the work of the police. We do not fight internal wars. We
did not kill anyone," Nkaissery claimed.

He said military officers in the district dealt with logistics as is stipulated in the Military Act.

"This man went touring and collected information from a bunch of liars who do not understand how we operate," the minister said.

Alston said the military, police and the Sabaot Land Defence Force militia engaged in killings in Mt Elgon.

But yesterday, Mt Elgon residents demonstrated against the UN report.
Waving placards, the residents held a peaceful demonstration denouncing
some human rights groups in Bungoma town for allegedly feeding the UN
official on lies.

Some of the placards read: Prof Alston, you did not come to Mt Elgon!, The UN: These are lies!'

The peaceful demonstrators marched for six kilometres from Sasur
trading centre to Cheptais market, where their bid to meet local DO
Timothy Tirop flopped.

"We waited for a whole day for the arrival of the UN team, only to be
informed that he was seeing a selected group of people in Bungoma. How
can we trust his report yet we are the real victims and we weren't
visited?" a demonstrator asked.

But Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi said the report was a true reflection of how security personnel oppressed Kenyans.

The Standard

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