ODM, PNU speak with one voice on Alston

June 3, 2009 12:00 am


NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 3 – A government delegation attending the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Wednesday said the State would implement most of the recommendations in Prof Philip Alston’s report but rejected calls for the resignation of Attorney General Amos Wako.

The delegation comprising of four cabinet ministers spoke with one voice and took issue with Prof Alston’s attack on constitutional office holders, and termed the move interference to Kenya’s sovereignty.

They however, agreed to comprehensive police reforms as outlined in Prof Alston’s report that was tabled at the council with overwhelming support from the international community including the European Union (EU) which sent a statement to newsrooms urging the government to implement the report in full.

Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti is reported to have told the council that the government was committed to ‘total’ police reforms and cited a Task Force on police reforms which is due to submit its report next month.

Sources told Capital News how the minister pledged to push for the police reforms “though he did not commit himself to have the police commissioner sacked as recommended in the controversial report.”

“He did not specifically state that the police chief will be dismissed but the indications he gave are strong enough to show the government‘s commitment because he pegged Ali’s fate on the Task Force,” a source said.

“He assured the council of a radical surgery in the police force and said the government was investigating all the accusations leveled against the police,” the source added.

While acknowledging problems in the police force, Prof Saitoti is reported to have assured that a Task Force on Police reforms that is headed by Justice (Rtd) Philip Ransley has been mandated to take into considerations the Waki report which clearly outlined measures to be taken in reforming the security department.

In its presentation, the government acknowledged that there have been numerous cases of extra-judicial killings in Kenya and vowed to deal with the vice, putting the job of the police chief in line.

“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,” the official report presented to the council stated.

Kenya was represented in Geneva by Ministers Prof Saitoti (Internal Security) Mutula Kilonzo (Justice), Amason Kingi (East African Community), James Orengo (Lands), Attorney General Amos Wako and other senior government officials.

While giving a summary of his findings, Prof Alston publicly tore into the Police Spokesman Mr Erick Kiraithe who formed part of the government delegation to Geneva for issuing blanket statements condemning him and dismissing the report.

“The police in particular remain a major stumbling block,” Prof Alston said. “Their attitude is reflected in the views expressed earlier this week by a member of the Government delegation to the Council, the Police Spokesman, Kiraithe.”

He particularly took issue with a statement issued earlier in the week by Mr Kiraithe who referred the UN Human Rights Investigator as a “Bigoted activist.”

“Earlier this week, he publicly called me a “bigoted activist”, and claimed that my report is a “baseless fabrication devoid of even an iota of fact,” Prof Alston said, to the embarrassment of Mr Kiraithe who sat pensively at the council.

He is among other members of the government delegation who traveled to Geneva using tax payer’s money yet they were not even scheduled to give any representation.

In his (Mr Kiraithe) view, and that of the Police Commissioner for whom he speaks, Prof Alston said, it “provides little beyond wild allegations”, is based on work plagiarized from local activists, includes “inexcusable falsehoods”, and manifests “an astonishing disregard for due process”.

“This personal attack on the Special Rapporteur is unfortunately typical of the response by the Kenya Police in such contexts.  Their approach has been to attack the messenger rather than address the issues raised,” Prof Alston said and added that “the trend is consistent with a longstanding practice of responding to alleged human rights violations by attacking the source of the allegations.”

Police shootings

The climax of Prof Alston’s summary was the killing of some 500 suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki sect who wee either shot or strangled by the police as documented in a report prepared by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

He also narrated to the council the evidence he received on the confessions made by a police whistleblower, Bernard Kiriinya who was “subsequently assassinated in October 2008.”

“His evidence documents in great detail 24 separate occasions on which one particular police death squad extra judicially executed some 58 suspects, mostly in cold blood,” Prof Alston said.

“The testimony clearly implicates senior officials, including the Police Commissioner.  No action has been taken,” he added.

The police commissioner has repeatedly denied the existence of the police death squad known as Kwekwe, though the Internal Security Minister is on record telling parliament that he “had ordered for its disbandment.”


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