Kenya Ministers, Mutua differ over UN report

February 26, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 26 – Two senior government Ministers have differed with the Government Spokesman over the United Nations Special Envoy’s preliminary report on extrajudicial killings and said that the government is studying the report.

Justice Minister Martha Karua said on Thursday that the government was keenly studying the report released by the Special Rapporteur Prof Phillip Alston and stated that the report only compounded some of the issues that government had resolved to address under Agenda Item Four (of the National Accord).

Ms Karua however refused to be drawn into debate over whether the Attorney General Amos Wako and the Police Commissioner Major Gen Hussein Ali should be dismissed for failing to deal effectively with impunity, and instead urged Kenyans to focus of institutional reforms.

“Do remember that even before the Waki report in Agenda Item Four, the Coalition Government had committed to among others police and judicial reforms, institutional reforms of many other institutions, it means we have admitted that there are challenges we are facing and we need to respond to them where we may not have responded adequately. It is reform time and we are getting into it.”

Ms Karua defended President Mwai Kibaki against assertions by the UN investigator that he had acknowledged the alleged police killings and failed to commit to stop them.

“The President works through pairs of hands, we (as ministers) may not always as those pairs of hands perform to the optimum but because there is that collectivity in whatever we do, our response as government is that we are looking into all those issues,” the Justice Minister said.

“We are taking seriously issues raised by our citizens and we are working on them within the context of the reforms under Agenda Item Four and the broader reform agenda.”

Despite numerous provocations by reporters, the Justice Minister refused to admit to the occurrence of extrajudicial killings.

“You will not get me to go beyond where I have gone (with the statement),” she told reporters. “And I have spoken extensively on the subject, it is not our duty as a government to dismiss without investigations what the citizens complain about and we will respond appropriately.”

After a ten-day fact finding mission, Prof Alston on Wednesday released a preliminary report indicating that he had gathered evidence of arbitrary killings by the security forces and called for the resignation of the AG and the Police Chief.

But in a swift reaction, government spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua dismissed the report saying: “It does not encourage dialogue and appears to have been made in bad faith almost impinging on matters of sovereignty, especially as it relates to the executive prerogative to appoint.”

However in a separate press conference on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said Dr Mutua’s sentiments were personal.

“As a government we have to make a decision on what is implementable and what is not, and that is not a matter someone just wakes up and rushes to make a decision on.  You will hear many of my colleagues give their comments and their views,” he said.

Mr Wetangula however criticised Prof Alston saying he did not present the report in the right way.

The government’s comments came as pressure mounted for the implementation of the report. Foreign envoys in Nairobi threw their weight behind the findings and called for immediate action on the recommendations.

In a statement read on their behalf by the Netherlands Ambassador Laetitia Van den Assum, the envoys said that the report recommendations are a good basis for the much needed reform agenda in the country.

“Action on the report and on the security reform elements of the Waki Report and Agenda Four, particularly the formation of the Police Reform Group and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, would constitute a clear signal that the Government is committed to reform and that it does not hesitate to show leadership in eradicating impunity,” Ms Assum said.

The Ambassadors also called for a more consultative process on the formation of a special local tribunal to try suspects of the post election violence. Their statement faulted the earlier failed attempt to form the tribunal as lacking transparency and inclusiveness.

Elsewhere, the National Civil Society Congress also asked the government to implement the report. Sheikh Ahmed Ramadhan, a member of the congress, insisted that the Attorney General and Major General Ali should immediately resign as recommended by Prof Alston.

“They must resign or we will organise demonstrations to remove them,” he warned.

Another member, Stephen Musau, said that the two had failed to protect Kenyans and fight impunity in the country.

“We cannot have a failed state where somebody who has sat on impunity for 18 years continues to enjoy state resources,” he said of Mr Wako.


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