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Kenya: U.N. Special Rapporteur Finds Police Responsible for Gross Human Rights Violations

(Mar. 5, 2009) The United Nations special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Philip Alston, who has been investigating at the invitation of the Kenyan government allegations of unlawful killings by the Kenyan police, violence in the Mount Elgon (Mt. Elgon) district in the Western Province of Kenya, and murders in the post-election violence at the beginning of 2008, completed his fact finding mission and released his preliminary report on February 25, 2009. Alston found that “the Kenyan police are free to kill at will.” Speaking about their motives, he said: “sometimes they do so for reasons of a private or personal nature. Sometimes they kill in the context of extortion, or of a ransom demand. Often they kill in the name of crime control, but in circumstances where they could readily make an arrest.” Overwhelming evidence of police death squads operating with the explicit mandate to exterminate suspected Mungiki (an outlawed political and religious group) members was discovered.

Alston called on the Kenyan president to “publicly acknowledge the widespread problem of extra-judicial executions and commit to systematic reform.” He also called for the dismissal of the police commissioner and the resignation of the Attorney-General for “encouraging the impunity that exists in Kenya.” With regard to Mt. Elgon, he said that for two years, “when the SLDF [Saboat Land Defence Force] militia terrorized the population, the government did far too little, … [w]hen the government did finally act, they responded with their own form of terror and brutality, killing over 200 people.” He recommended that the Kenyan government immediately establish an independent commission to investigate the torture and extra-judicial executions that took place in 2008. He further advised that the International Criminal Court based in The Hague take on the case. (Police Reform Key to Ending Impunity – UN Expert, IRIN, Feb. 26, 2009, available at