, This is the statement by the Kenyan Delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 3, 2009.
We have carefully studied the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary and Extra Judicial killings, which comes at a time when Kenya is implementing comprehensive reforms under Agenda item IV of the National Reconciliation Accord.
The Government acknowledges, there have been cases of unlawful killings within the police force in respect of which investigations into 53 cases have been completed and 81 police officers have been prosecuted since the year 2000. These prosecutions are a reflection of the seriousness with which the Government is dealing with the issue.
Mr. President, the Kenya Government does not condone extra-judicial killings and there is no Government policy sanctioning such violation of law.
The Government also recognizes that there are weaknesses in the police oversight mechanisms, inadequacies in the Police Force standing Orders and need for an independent police commission. These are currently being addressed by a task force led by retired Justice Philip Ransley.
Prior to the visit of the Special Rapporteur, Kenya had recognized the weaknesses and lack of capacity in our institutions and the need for legal and administrative reforms. The imperatives and foundations for the desired reforms began with the Governance, justice, law and order sector wide reform programme in 2003, and were sharpened by and are clearly spelt out in the National Accord and Reconciliation Act. In pursuance of its obligations under the Act, the Grand Coalition Government has therefore set the country on a new path for the implementation of a coherent and far reaching reform agenda that entail legal and administrative reforms and has set a clear road map for the following.
• Reforms in the judiciary and the criminal justice system, Public service and the police,
• Punishing and ending impunity
• Land reforms
• Eliminating corruption
• Enhancing safeguards for the protection of human rights.
We have undertaken major legislative reforms including: the establishment of the Witness Protection Act that establishes the Witness Protection Programme and amendments to the Criminal Law and procedures which introduced protection of accused persons making confessions, and plea bargaining provisions.
Today, Kenya remains on course despite the difficulties of the 2007 Post Election violence following which, the Kenya National Accord was signed.
In order to give effect to the Accord, 4 Acts of Parliament to underpin the national reform process were enacted in December, 2008:
• The Constitution of Kenya Review Act;
• The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Act;
• The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission Act; and
• The National Cohesion and Integration Act.
Following this, the Government has set up three commissions on constitutional review, electoral reforms and boundaries review respectively. Also in process, are a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission and a National Cohesion Commission.
Having recognized the urgent need for judicial reforms, the Government has commissioned a task force on the reform of the judiciary with instructions to complete its work in two weeks.
It is intended that in the constitutional review process some of the concerns raised by Prof Alston including the alleged ambiguities under section 71 of the constitution will be addressed.
The goal is to ensure that this multi pronged strategy will deliver the reforms Kenyans have clearly identified as priorities and that will inform the constitutional review process which has a twelve month time frame.
Kenya has a very vibrant human rights institutions and civil society organizations. We so value the role they play especially in the governance and rule of law areas that the government has set up two facilities; the Non State Actors Net and the UNDP facility to fund their engagement with government.
The Government of Kenya regrets and condemns the killing of human rights defenders of the Oscar foundation officials Mr. Oscar Kingara and Mr. Paul Oulu. The Government would like to assure the Council that no human rights defenders will be intimidated or harassed.
Indeed the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs has reaffirmed its commitment to work with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders to strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The Kenya delegation would like to put on record its support for the work of Special procedures and mandate holders. Indeed we have welcomed several Special Rapporteurs to Kenya including the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Housing, on the Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous persons and more recently on Summary killings. Prof Alston acknowledges in his Report the cooperation that was extended by the Government to his mission.
We have found most of the recommendations contained in these reports on Kenya constructive and useful, and remain committed to fulfilling our obligations under the international instruments which we are party to. We will not shy away in future from inviting and engaging with Special procedures and mandate holders under the code of conduct.
The call for the resignation of Constitutional office holders in the current report does not fall within the purview of the mandate holder.
We hope that in recognition of the extremely important work that the special mandate holders undertake, the Council will allocate adequate resources, both human and financial, to their work. In addition and finally, more time should be allocated to the consideration of reports to reflect their importance as well as provide adequate time for valuable and proper interaction between the mandate holders and the council.
Allow me to reiterate Kenya’s full commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights as the basic foundation for the rule of law, democracy, peace and development. To this end, Kenya is developing a National Policy and Action Plan for human rights in conjunction with the National Human Rights Institution, Civil Society organizations, Private sector and other stakeholders.