NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 22 – US Secretary of State John Kerry on his Monday visit to Kenya said US President Barack Obama was “deeply concerned” by reports of extra-judicial killings in the country.
Kerry said it was one of the concerns he raised during talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta whom he met at State House Nairobi on Monday morning.
He said President Kenyatta condemned such abuse of police power but had sought to make the point that some disappearances in the Muslim community had nothing to do with the police and were in fact the result of Al Shabaab recruitment efforts.
“He is opposed and he has issued instructions and orders to his top people that this is not something that should occur but he also pointed out as others have to me that some of the disappearances, I’m not excusing anything here… are people who are going to fight across the border in Somalia or somewhere and they get killed and they don’t come back and ‘they’ve disappeared’.”
Even so, Kerry said, “if anybody is killed that’s one too many,” explaining that the Kenyan authorities had accepted assistance from the US government to guard against forced disappearances.
“We agreed to have a taskforce come together, work on it, do a forum on to try to talk about it and he (President Kenyatta) has agreed to have our folks work with the Inspector General of Police and with your intelligence chief and try to work at this. And we are committed to doing that. President Obama is deeply concerned about it as am I and I think anybody of conscience.”
Kerry spoke on the subject matter when fielding questions from Young African Leaders Initiative fellows with the particular question on forced disappearances being raised by a gentleman from Mandera.
Kerry’s visit comes just weeks after four Administration Police officers were charged with the brutal murders of Human Rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver Joseph Murimi and human rights groups had called on the Secretary of State to tackle the subject with the government on his visit to Kenya.
There is also concern over radicalisation within the ranks of Kenya’s disciplined forces given a military man and former military man were on the morning of Kerry’s visit arraigned on suspicion of planning a terror attack after being found in possession of explosives.
A month earlier a police officer believed to be an Al Shabaab sympathiser killed fellow officers in a day-long siege on the Kapenguria Police Station to which he was attached.