GENEVA, Switzerland, May 15 – The government of Kenya has defended itself against accusations of abetting torture.
In its second report to the Committee Against Torture the government explains that it does not condone torture and has put administrative, legislative and structural mechanisms through the new Constitution to prevent and address cases of torture in the country.
“The most important achievements has been the enactment of a new constitution which provides a stronger constitutional, legal and institutional framework for promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country. Freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment is a right enshrined in the Bill of Rights,” the report indicated.
The government stresses that all people including government officers accused of torturing people have not been spared by the law.
To support its defence, Kenya says apart from prohibiting ‘police from using torture in addressing transgression against law’ three police officers have been charged in court for torture.
The report further has pointed out at reforms that have led to the establishment of bodies and commissions to protect rights of people, including women, children, minorities and people living with disabilities.
It has indicated that a task force was established to investigate allegations that Somali refugees were being tortured at the Dadaab Camp and the matter has been handed over to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to consider the matter.
The government is also in the process of drafting a National Refugee Policy to address cases of torture against refugees.
It has also defended itself against allegations of extra judicial killings saying all reported cases are under investigation and those found guilty have been prosecuted.
“Every case of death during police operations is investigated on its own merits. Following such investigations, 34 cases have been investigated and police officers prosecuted for the offence of murder between 2006 and 2011. Out of these cases, three have been convicted, two acquitted and 29 are pending in various stages of prosecution,” the report reads.
According to the report, the police are also blameless in the Mt Elgon shootings since there was no evidence to show that security officers tortured victims as alleged by human rights bodies.
Kenya says mechanisms are in place to crackdown on criminal groups like Mungiki and Sungusungu and also to empower youth to prevent them from engaging in criminal activities that open avenues for allegations of torture.
Apart from that, the report indicates that the government has compensated torture victims and has also reduced crowding in prisons by ensuring that no person is held in custody for offences that are ‘punishable by a fine or imprisonment for not more than 6 months.’
Kenya however says terrorism continues to be a serious threat but has put measures and acted to address it.
Shortage of lawyers to represent victims of torture is also a big problem in consideration of the ratio that one lawyer represents 40,000 Kenyans.