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26 Feb 2009 07:20
Kenyan police are a law unto themselves and often execute criminal suspects and other individuals with impunity, a United Nations expert said on Wednesday.
Such executions are not the work of rogue officers but are widespread and carefully planned, UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston told journalists at the end of his 10-day mission in Kenya.
Alston said before he came to Kenya he knew that police carried out executions but he did not realise the true extent of the problem.
“[I found] the existence of a systematic, widespread and clearly planned strategy to execute individuals carried out on a regular basis by the Kenya police,” said Alston. He said officers who carried out the executions had the support of and were possibly directed by the highest levels in the force.
President Mwai Kibaki should fire Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali to allow credible investigations into the killings to take place and to demonstrate that the government is serious about dealing with the problem, Alston recommended.
Government spokesperson Alfred Mutua said Kenya rejects Alston’s findings and recommendations, claiming the preliminary report was made “in bad faith, almost impinging on matters of sovereignty”.
Alston met with Ali, who he said denied that such executions took place.
Alston also said Attorney General Amos Wako should resign because during his 17-year tenure he has not used his powers to prosecute police and has done nothing to reform the criminal justice system.
“Mr Wako is the embodiment in Kenya of the phenomenon of impunity,” said Alston, an Australian who is a New York University School of Law professor.
Alston also recommended the government immediately form an inquiry to investigate the killings of more than 200 people in western Kenya when soldiers were sent to fight a militia group in the Mount Elgon region last year.
Alston, who acts as an independent investigator into summary executions for the United Nations, came to Kenya at the invitation of the government and interviewed more than100 people.
He complained that people who helped organise the interviews with family members have been harassed since he left.
A final report of his findings will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council and the Kenyan government.—Sapa-AP
Associated Press writer Tom Odula in Nairobi contributed to this report.
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