Amnesty challenges Kenya on impunity

June 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – Amnesty International (AI) on Friday urged the Kenyan government to urgently tackle the culture of impunity or risk facing more problems in the near future.

AI’s Secretary General Irene Khan said there was urgent need for the international community to pressure the government to implement a report of a commission that investigated post election violence to help end the culture of impunity.

“Most of the reports of the commissions may never be implemented unless there is sustained pressure from the international community and donor agencies,” she told reporters in Nairobi.

Ms Khan said she had met Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who assured her of the government’s commitment “to resolve the issues” and implement reports of commissions and task forces.

“Successive Kenyan governments have been good at establishing Commissions and Taskforces and poor at implementing their recommendations,” she said. “This government must not repeat that pattern.”

If Kenya fails to fight impunity, she said, “it will be storing serious problems for the future."

The chief of the London-based rights group said that “even more worrying was a failure by the two sides of the coalition government to agree on the extent of rights abuses, especially in post-electoral violence.”

Kenya’s political rivals were pressured into a power-sharing deal last year by international mediators after violence that accompanied the December 2007 elections.

"We are calling on the government to actually rise above the political divisions… to wake up and live up to the responsibility that has been placed on them," Khan said.

A government-sponsored probe into the violence led by Justice Philip Waki recommended on October 15 last year the establishment of a special court to try the unrest suspects.

But the special tribunal is not yet in place and former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, who brokered peace after the contested polls has warned that if Kenya fails to set up the special tribunal by August, he will have the suspects to face international justice.

But Ms Khan said that if Kenya waited for the International Criminal Court to intervene "it would be an abdication of responsibility".

With the post election violence having died down, Kenya risks slipping out of the world’s attention.

"Time is running out and the government must act urgently to build consensus on fundamental human rights issues," she added.

She said Amnesty International and other credible lobby groups had done extensive research and documentation which shows that there has been “widespread human rights violations, including unlawful killings, extra-judicial executions, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances by police and security forces in Kenya.”

“The government’s denial of the widespread nature of the problem reflects a palpable lack of political will to take concrete and decisive action,” said Ms Khan.


She said lack of the government’s commitment to protect her people from discrimination and insecurity.

She said Amnesty International had documented a report titled ‘The Unseen Majority’ which shows how some two million slum dwellers have been neglected by the government.

“I have handed over the report to the Prime Minister and Vice President who have both assured me of its implementation,” she said.

“The promise to deliver adequate housing and services to all those living in informal settlements and slums is long overdue,” Ms Khan said.

“Despite a national housing policy adopted four years ago that promised the progressive realisation of the right to housing, the government has failed to provide accessible, affordable housing,” part of the report states.


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