Set up agency to probe human rights violations by police officers

Set up agency to probe human rights violations by police officers

  on 10th Dec 2016

Set up agency to probe human rights violations by police officers

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International

The police told the media that the gang stole seven guns and an undisclosed quantity of ammunition.

The Kenyan authorities responded in a manner that has become all too familiar during such security incidents; they immediately deployed anti-riot police, the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU).

According to the media and human rights organisations, the GSU officers went on to commit horrific human rights violations, including raping and sexually torturing women and looting homes in the nearby area.

It was also reported that at least two people died from police beatings in the immediate aftermath.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, a constitutional agency, condemned these violations, but senior police officers denied they had taken place, in spite of incriminating video footage that was later aired by media houses.

The National Police Service and the Inspector-General of Police have publicly stated that officers found to have been abusive will be held to account.

However, such assurances ring hollow as they have been made before without resulting in effective and impartial investigations.

It is rare to find suspects being brought to trial.

The sad truth is that human rights violations by security agencies — including extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture — are now considered the norm for many Kenyans in parts of Nairobi, the coastal region and northeast Kenya.

For example, in response to a Shabaab attack on Mpeketoni in Lamu on the coast of northeast Kenya that left 48 people dead, multiple security units rampaged through nearby villages, arbitrarily arresting and detaining people. Many villagers were tortured.

AN INQUIRY
As we mark International Human Rights Day today, we are calling on the Kenyan authorities to stop denying victims of rights violations the justice they deserve.

The police and government officials have consistently either dismissed or denied these allegations, or simply refused to acknowledge the involvement of government security agencies.

In some cases, police and other government officials have responded to reports of abuses by threatening family members of victims, the media and human rights activists seeking justice.

Threatening families of the victims is not only unlawful, it also makes communities distrust the security agencies, and in the end it undermines the public’s trust to partner with the police in combating crime.

In view of the widespread nature of these human rights violations, and the fact that they involve multiple security units, especially related to counter-terrorism, it is unlikely that existing accountability institutions and mechanisms can effectively and impartially investigate and ensure justice for the victims and their families.

This means President Uhuru Kenyatta needs to establish a commission of inquiry in line with the Kenya Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1962.

UNBRIDLED TEAM

Under this Act, the President has power to appoint a special commission to investigate a particular matter of public interest.

There can be no doubt that these violations are of pressing public interest.

The commission of inquiry should have the mandate to comprehensively investigate past and new allegations of human rights violations, whether terrorism-related or otherwise.

It should include individuals with proven expertise, knowledge and experience in the promotion and protection of human rights.

The commission should be granted unhindered access to relevant location — including all places of detention, such as police stations, military barracks and other suspected unofficial sites.

Mr Namwaya is Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, while Mr Abdullahi Boru is East Africa researcher at Amnesty International.

Namwaya

Abdullahi Boru

 


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153enforced disappearances
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285Extrajudicial Executions
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438total verified
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1732Unverified Data