GENEVA, November 14 – The United Nations anti-torture watchdog has called on Kenyan authorities to ensure those responsible for post election violence faced justice. The Geneva-based Committee Against Torture (CAT) said that complaints against police officers should be treated with the utmost seriousness to avoid promoting impunity.
The Geneva-based Committee Against Torture (CAT) said that complaints against police officers should be treated with the utmost seriousness to avoid promoting impunity.
This was particularly evident in respect of violence against women, according to experts quoted by the report.
According to Wang Xuexian, co-rapporteur for the Kenyan report, 405 people died from police violence in post-election unrest. Women and girls were the victims of widespread violence at the hands of the police, including gang rapes.
According to reports from human rights bodies, "in the court cases alleging torture raised directly with magistrates, no action was taken on 80 percent of those cases."
Rapporteur Nora Sveaass said that 11 years after Kenya had ratified the UN convention against torture there was no definition of torture that conformed to that of the convention in Kenyan law.
That prevented criminal prosecution and risked favouring impunity. A further concern was the fact that psychological and mental suffering resulting from torture was not covered at all in Kenyan law, Sveaass said.
Justice Minister Martha Karua said that the security forces had been obliged to act against armed criminal bands.
The post-election violence led to 1,500 deaths and the displacement of some 300,000 people. It followed the refusal by the Kenyan opposition to accept the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki, whom it accused of stealing the election.
Two inquiries, one into the violence, the other into the election have both submitted their reports to the government. Either is yet to be implemented.