, BANJUL, Gambia, Nov 11- “It is not easy to balance the rights of Kenyans, whom we are supposed to protect and the rights of people armed with grenades,” were the words of Kenya Police spokesperson Charles Owino during the ongoing 57th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s rights.
Owino was tasked to respond to allegations raised against the National Police Service more so on extra-judicial killings and forceful disappearances of terror suspects.
He went ahead to highlight series of attacks that had claimed lives; the Garissa University College attack that left 147 people dead, Westgate attack that left 67 people dead among others.
“We do not want to kill anyone. If we do so, we would be playing to the gallery of the Al-Shabaab,” he said.
He noted that the terrorists were taking advantage of such claims, for instance that police were being involved to kill Sheikhs and terror suspects, “to radicalize more youths. This is the propaganda they are using.”
On whether police were engaged in forceful disappearances of terror suspects, Owino admitted that yes there were youths who were missing, but said, “They had joined Al-Shabaab and ISIS.”
He said police were aware that already 10 youths from Kenya had joined the militia in Somalia, while police managed to stop six students in Nairobi, who were also headed there.
Another example he gave was that of two Nairobi Muslim girls, who were reported missing only to, “be tracked in ISIS.”
The National Police Service had been highly accused of infringing on people’s rights during the session by a shadow report on the status of human rights in Kenya presented by a delegation of 14 Non-Governmental Organizations.
The police spokesperson revealed that the Inspector General of Police had reached out to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to ensure, “the public gets the truth.”
On September 15, KNCHR released a report that heavily indicted the Kenyan Police of extra-judicial killings during the ongoing terror crackdown.
The report titled ‘The Error of Fighting Terror with Terror’ lists 25 extra judicial killings and 81 forced disappearances and torture.
It includes water boarding, electric shocks, genital mutilation, exposure to extreme cold or heat, hanging on trees, mock executions and exposure to stinging by ants in the wild.
The report indicated that the Kenya security agencies have continued to conduct abusive operations against individuals and groups suspected to be associated with terror attacks in the various parts of the country.
Another report was by the Independent Medico Legal Unit, which accused police of similar accusations.
The Kenya Prison Department was presented by James Kodieny, who had been asked to provide statistics on number of prisoners in Kenya and deaths in custody.
In 2012, he said 421 male prisoners died in Kenya prisons against 3 females; 623 males had died in 2013 and 9 female prisoners.
He attributed the deaths to, “health causes, natural causes, old age and suicide.”
He however noted that from postmortem reports, “majority of these deaths are as a result of natural causes.”
To reverse the trend, he noted that more medical doctors had been recruited to the department, decongestion of prisons so as to fight communicable diseases, construction of new prison facilities and sensitizing prisoners on the importance of personal hygiene.
In Kenya, he said there are 31, 764 convicted prisoners with 2,611 women.
Un-convicted males include 19, 649, 1,234 females and 101 juveniles.
To rehabilitate juvenile prisoners, he told the commission that the department had taken measures like introducing the presidential award to encourage talent development, facilitated music festivals amongst juvenile, among other measures.
Kenya will now submit a written report on all concerns raised during the session after the verbal submission.
The country will thereafter be give recommendations for implementation within a set period of time.
The Kenya delegation was led by the Senior Deputy Solicitor General Maryanne Njau to defend its report.
During the session, a number of countries like Libya submitted their reports.