Karel Prinsloo/AP
In this 2007 photo, a policeman orders his dog to attack people in the Mathare slum in

Kenya Disputes UN Report on Police Killings

February 26, 2009 02:59 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Kenyan government says that a UN investigator’s findings that its police have engaged in widespread and systematic killings of civilians is false, and questions the legitimacy of the report.

UN Condemns Brutal Murders

The report, compiled by UN special investigator on human rights Philip Alston, was released Wednesday and accuses the nation’s police of frequent extrajudicial killings, according to Bloomberg.

Killings by the police in Kenya are systematic, widespread and carefully planned. They are committed at will and with utter impunity,” UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston said in a written statement.

Alston recommends that both the police commissioner and the attorney general resign for allegedly aiding the killings and failing to prosecute offending officers. But the Kenyan government disputes his findings.

“The government finds it inconceivable that someone who has been in the country for less than 10 days can purport to have conducted comprehensive and accurate research on such a serious matter, as to arrive at the recommendations he made,” government spokesman Alfred Mutua said on his Web site Thursday in response.

The killings typically occur in lieu of arrests or over personal matters such as for extortion or for ransom, according to the report. One victim cited by Alston is James Ng’ang’a Kariuki Muiruri, 29, who was shot three times by police after asking why he was being arrested. Alston says that youths suspected of being part of the illegal Mungiki sect are a target, and also blamed police for deaths that occurred when violence broke out after the disputed presidential election of 2007. About 1,133 people were killed during the disputed presidential election of 2007.

One day before the report was released, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights released to the public a video interviewing a police constable, Bernard Kiriinya, who was murdered four months after giving testimony. In it, he describes “in chilling detail how he witnessed the killing of 58 people in a year while working as a driver for a police death squad,” according to the Guardian.

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Opinion & Analysis: What can be done about police brutality?

Police brutality has long been a problem in Kenya, comments Maik Kwambo in the Kenya London News, who says that it is “common knowledge” that many police officers employ verbal harassment, engage in the use of unnecessary physical force, stop suspects without sufficient reason, accept bribes before freeing suspects, and excuse the use of force with claims of self-defense. “For many years, Kenyan courts and prisons have witnessed a dreary procession of citizens with broken limbs and bruised bodies. A majority of them did not deserve the violence meted out on them during their arrests and subsequent incarceration. A great many cases did not register any complaints. In cases where complaints were raised, charges were generally dismissed.”

Background: Political situation in Kenya

In May of last year, the largest ever Kenyan National Cabinet met for the first time, headed by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and struggled to make decisions as a cohesive unit. Odinga had been sworn in as prime minister in April, solidifying the recent power-sharing deal between his and Kibaki’s parties. Kibaki and then-opposition leader Odinga signed an agreement to end the violence that had plagued Kenya since December in February.

Reference: Kenya


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