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KNCHR: Prosecute abuses in Mt Elgon

NAIROBI, May 15 – The state-run Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Thursday said it had written to the Attorney General recommending the prosecution of nine top security officials over torture on citizens arrested in a recent military operation in Mount Elgon.

A damning report released at the commission’s headquarters in Nairobi accused the high-ranking security officials of committing crimes against humanity including murder on members of the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF).

“We want the Attorney General to institute legal proceedings against these officials,” said Hassan Omar Hassan, one of the commissioner’s at the KNCHR.

Those named in the report include Defence Minister Yusuf Hajji, Chief of the General Staff General Jeremiah Kianga, Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali  and Army Commander Lt Gen Augustino Njoroge.

Others are the Administration Police Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua, Western Provincial Commissioner Abdul Mwasera, Lt Col S.K. Boiwo who commands  an army camp in Mount Elgon and two other army officers in the region.

Part of the statement read: “The national commission has, after inquiry, advised the Office of the Attorney General to institute criminal proceedings against these officers.”

“Those in charge of the Mount Elgon operations are accountable for the conduct of all the units in question notwithstanding the chain of command, especially where crimes have been committed,” Hassan said.

Other recommendations outlined in the report include the suspension of the armed forces in any ongoing or future United Nations peace keeping operations on account of the alleged violations.

Hassan said the organisation had written to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), requesting Louise Arbour to suspend the country’s officers on peace keeping mission.

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The commission also demanded what it termed ‘prompt, impartial and effective investigation’ of the complaints raised by suspects rounded up during the massive operation.

Hassan said the commission was unable to account for the exact number of victims tortured, killed or maimed during the operation.

Military personnel have been conducting a massive operation to root out members of the SLDF who are accused of reining terror on area residents.

Police records show that up to 600 residents were killed since June last year by SLDF members.

But since the operation started, many more members of the banned gang have been killed and thousands others arrested and charged.

Others were either detained or interrogated and released.

In a quick rejoinder, Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua dismissed those castigating the security forces over the operation and urged them to ‘get their facts right’.

“As much they want to criticise the government on the manner in which the operation was carried out, they should go and interview area residents who have lost their children to SLDF. This is a group that was recruiting children as soldiers and giving them guns to kill,” he said during his weekly briefing at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

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