HUMAN RIGHTS; ARE THEY REALLY RESPECTED BY THE GOVERNMENT?
Abridgement of citizens’ right to change their government in the last national election; unlawful killings, torture, rape, and use of excessive force by security forces; mob violence; police corruption and impunity; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; arbitrary interference with the home and infringement on citizens’ privacy; prolonged pretrial detention; executive influence on the judiciary and judicial corruption; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and assembly; forced return and abuse of refugees, including killing and rape; official corruption; violence and discrimination against women; violence against children, including female genital mutilation (FGM); child prostitution; trafficking in persons; interethnic violence; discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS status; lack of enforcement of workers’ rights; forced and bonded labor; and child labor, including forced child labor.
The report outlines the following:
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary and unlawful killings, included politically motivated killings, during the year. The government took only limited action in enforcing the law against security forces suspected of unlawfully killing citizens.
On March 11, seven administration police executed seven taxi drivers in the Kawangware slums west of Nairobi. The seven men were arrested, appeared in court on March 31, and were charged on December 11. A trial had not begun by year’s end.
In July, according to Amnesty International, a 74-year-old unarmed man was shot and killed by police after verbally protesting the beating of a woman during a forced evacuation of a Nairobi settlement. There were no developments in the case by year’s end.
In September administration police killed 14 persons and dumped their bodies in Kinale Forest. Police made no statement about the killings although there were reports that three of the victims were known criminals. Members of Parliament (MP) tasked the Minister of Security with issuing a report on the murders although no report had been produced by year’s end.
On November 6, a police officer shot and killed 10 persons, including two fellow officers, while allegedly looking for a woman who infected him with HIV. There were no developments in this case by year’s end.
In February 2009 Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, released a report that found ‘that police in Kenya frequently execute individuals and that a climate of impunity prevails. The rapporteur also reported. The existence of poke death squads operating on the orders of senior police officials and charged with eliminating suspected leaders and members of criminal organizations. The government rejected the findings of the Alston report and filed a protest with the UN. According to media reports, however, the Ministry of Internal Security acknowledged in a February 2009 letter to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) that police had killed 308 youths in 2008.
In 2008 the government formed the Commission of Inquiry into Postelection Violence (CIPEV) as part of the internationally mediated political settlement. The CIPEV documented 405 gunshot deaths during the postelection period; it attributed the vast majority of these to police. The final CIPEV report recommended that the government establish a special tribunal to investigate individuals suspected of such violence; however, no local tribunal was established, and the government still had not systematically investigated or prosecuted individuals suspected of postelection violence through other means by year’s end. However, on December 15, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that he had asked a pretrial chamber to issue summonses for six Kenyan nationals on charges of crimes against humanity for their alleged role in the 2007-08 postelection violence.
In March 2009 unidentified gunmen, reportedly acting on orders from the former commissioner of police, shot and/killed Oscar Kamau King’ara, the executive director of the local nongovernmental organization (NGO) Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic Kenya (OFFLACK), and Paul Oulu, OFFLACK’s program coordinator. In 2008 OFFLACK reported that police were linked with the continued disappearance and deaths of suspected members of the banned Mungiki criminal organization. Police threatened and intimidated witnesses to the killings, and four witnesses went into exile. The prime minister requested international assistance to investigate the murders, but the minister for foreign affairs subsequently rejected such assistance. No credible investigation had been conducted by year’s end, and none was expected.
Security forces continued to claim that police must shoot to kill to defend themselves when confronted by armed suspects, for example. in September 2009, the media reported that the district commissioner for Murang’a East District issued “shoot to kill” order against suspected Mungiki members, and in October 2009 a district commissioner in marakwet announced a “shoot to kill” policy against suspected armed bandits. The policy first was enunciated in 2005 and later reiterated in 2007, after armed criminals killed 43 police officers in the line of duty.
On March 10, police reportedly killed seven suspected members of the Mungiki in a police operation in Nairobi. Police claimed that a gun battle had started after police shot at a mob that was attacking motorcyclists to extort motorcycle taxi drivers.
During the year there were reports that persons died while in police custody or shortly thereafter,
some as a result of torture. For example, the Daily Nation reported in January that a 24-year-old man was tortured to death while undergoing police interrogation regarding a livestock theft at the Ngomeni Police Station. No further information was available at year’s end.
In November the Standard newspaper reported that a man, arrested at a bar for an altercation with a police officer, was dragged to a police station by the officer and chained and beaten to death. No further information was available at year’s end.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports of disappearances or politically motivated abductions. There were no developments in the January 2009 case in which a journalist was abducted and killed. There were no developments in the September 2009 case in which the Muslim Human Rights Forum alleged that five Muslims suspected by the government of involvement in terrorist activity were abducted by the Antiterrorism Police Unit (ATPU) and subsequently disappeared. The ATPU denied the allegations.
The KNCHR, the IMLU and Western Kenya Human Rights Watch (WKHRW) reported that the government failed to investigate disappearances in connection with the 2008 security force operation in Mount Elgon and the crackdown on the Mungiki criminal organization in 2008.
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices; however, the legal code does not define torture and provides no sentencing guidelines, which functionally bars prosecution for torture. Police frequently used violence and torture during interrogations and as punishment of pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. According to the IMLU, physical battery was the most common method of torture used by the police.
Human rights organizations, churches, and the press reported numerous cases of torture and indiscriminate police beatings.
In 2008 the IMLU receive 772 cases alleging torture by security officers, compared with 397 in 2005, although it noted that the number of torture cases was likely higher.
There were allegations of rape by security forces, including the rape of women in prisons, as well as in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees and among asylum seekers crossing into the country from Somalia.
For example, in March Human Rights Watch (HRW) conducted 102 interviews regarding sexual violence in the Dadaab refugee camps. In 46 of the cases, police were accused of gang-raping women in the camps or on their way to the camps. The Center for Rights Education Awareness alleged in 2008 that policemen raped women in the Kibera slum in Nairobi and those seeking refuge in police stations.
Police use of excessive force to disperse demonstrators resulted in injuries (see section 2b.). Due to a shortage of civilian state prosecutors in the legal system (72 civilian prosecutors nationwide compared to 315 police prosecutors), police were responsible for investigating and prosecuting all crimes at the magistrate court level; civilian prosecutors handled cases at the high court level. Police routinely ignored evidence of security force torture provided by the IMLU and other human rights organizations. In most cases allegations of torture were not fully investigated and the perpetrators not charged.
As part of reforms agreed to in the National Accord in July 2009 the government established the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), whose mandate included the investigation of alleged cases of torture since independence. The TJRC had collected statements but had not conducted any hearings by year’s end.
The government did not investigate alleged cases of torture by security forces that were documented by the IMLU and HRW from the Mount Elgon and El Wake security operations in2008. The government denied that security forces engaged in torture and refused to prosecute individuals alleged to have participated in torture during the two operations.
From the context of human rights in Kenya and their foundations in the Kenyan constitution and the UN UDHR, one would conclude that the leadership and the citizens would exercise full commitment and uphold the said-rights and freedoms. This is because; these are the preconditions for a dignified life between the state and the individual, and among individuals. However, this has not always been the case, as discussed above.