NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8- Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji says the war against extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances needs a holistic approach to ensure the vice doesn’t thrive any further.
He says the recent cases have raised concerns as Kenya continues to lose youths, more so in urban slum areas like Mathare and Kayole to police killings where a majority were mere suspects of a crime.
Speaking during the Independent Medico-Legal Unit 25th anniversary celebrations on Friday night, Haji revealed that already he has held a multi-agency meeting to discuss the vice while a follow-up meeting with right groups is set to be held next week on Monday.
“Violation of human rights is a mischievous threat that has a wide range of effects on our society. It undermines democracy, the rule of law, it leads to fear and intimidation. It erodes public trust in governing institutions and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish,” he asserted.
He has committed to ensure the ongoing reforms within the criminal justice system are effective and addresses all the outstanding issues.
Going forward, he says the focus will be on prevention, detection, and punishment of those who are found guilty.
Human Rights Organisations like IMLU including the Independent Police Oversight Authority are investigating hundreds of extra-judicial killings in the recent 12 months.
“Many will ask, is there hope for the criminal justice system in Kenya to realize its full potential? It is a valid question especially when asked by the biggest stakeholders of all- members of the public,” he noted.
“For the ODPP, hope is alive in the criminal justice system, specifically for prosecutions courtesy of all and your (IMLU) assertiveness.”
On April 13, President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Prevention of Torture Act 2017.
The law, according to IMLU Executive Director Peter Kiama “provides for a clear platform to actualize several fundamental articles in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 including Article 25 with regards to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or Punishment, Article 28 on respect and protection of human dignity and Article 29 on freedom and security of the person.”
He further notes that the law brings all state agencies and officials under the ambit of accountability for torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and provides clear penalties for such atrocities.
Kenya also has a National Coroners Service Act 2017 which establishes a legal framework for reporting, investigating and documenting unnatural deaths.
IMLU was among other right groups that agitated for the enactment of the law having played a crucial role at the draft stage.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet in a speech read by National Police spokesman Charles Owino committed to ensure the rule of law is adhered to and more so respect for human rights.
He, however, cautioned Kenyans against infringing on other people’s rights noting everything has a limitation.
According to IMLU statistics, 822 people died from police bullets between 2013 and June 2018.
Of these, 58 happened between January and June this year.
According to their statistics, there are 44 cases of summary executions between January and June.
Some of the challenges hampering the quest for justice, she says include lack of cooperation and full investigations, lack of independent post-mortem report that are used in court to establish the cause of death in extra-judicial killing and threats and intimidation by the perpetrators to the victims.
Others include lack of strengthened witness protection mechanism, delay in compensation awards and normalization of extra-judicial killings by Kenyans.