/ 26 November 2007

Lawyers say 8 000 Kenyans killed in sect crackdown

More than 8 000 Kenyans have been executed or tortured to death since 2002 when police launched a crackdown on a banned, politically-linked sect, a group of Kenyan lawyers said on Sunday.

The Oscar Foundation said it had ”documented 8 040 cases of death by execution and torture perpetuated by state agents and another 4 070 cases of disappearance where victims remain unaccounted for in the period between August 2002 and August 2007”.

”A pattern of ‘systematic and selective’ violation of citizen’s right occurs arbitrarily, often the youth and poor people are targeted for brutality, torture and extrajudicial executions,” it said in a report.

Police spokesperson Eric Kiraithe dismissed the claims: ”Police cannot comment on outrageous reports authored by dubious characters.

”If the authors of the report are serious, they should give the names of the victims, places where they were killed and by whom. That way, the claims can be investigated by police and the international community now or in future.”

The foundation, made up of human rights lawyers, offered no specific evidence in its report, called State Repression.

Security forces launched a crackdown on the Mungiki sect after it was banned in March 2002 when its members were involved in deadly slum violence in the capital Nairobi that claimed dozens of lives.

Once a religious group of dreadlocked youths who embraced traditional rituals, authorities say the sect has morphed into a ruthless gang blamed for criminal activities including extortion and murder.

Earlier this month, the state-run Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) implicated the Kenyan police in the execution-style deaths of nearly 500 men June and October in its crackdown on the Mungiki sect.

Police also rejected these claims. The allegations come ahead of general elections in Kenya next month, when President Mwai Kibaki will seek a second and final term in office. ‒ Sapa-AFP