Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Amnesty International says the Kenyan government has a duty to protect the rights of all citizens

Over the past three weeks vigilante groups have been active in Kirinyaga district, ostensibly to provide community protection or security against the operations of Mungiki members who have been demanding money as protection fees from residents of the area.

Amnesty International emphasizes that the state has an obligation to respect and protect the right to life of everyone within its jurisdiction.

The Kenyan Government must not abdicate its duty to respect and protect life by explicitly or tacitly supporting the activities of vigilante groups. If the state permits vigilante or similar groups to carry out security or law enforcement functions, any abuses they commit in doing so, including extrajudicial executions or other unlawful killings of criminal suspects, are human rights violations for which the state is responsible. The Kenyan authorities cannot evade their obligations by letting vigilante groups carry out unlawful killings.

It is likewise an abdication of their duty for the police to state that they will not act because whenever they do, they are accused of extrajudicial executions. It is the role of the state, through its law enforcement agencies, to provide adequate security and protection against violent crime. In doing so, the police must use only such force as is strictly necessary and proportionate for the performance of their duty. The government must ensure that the police or any other bodies which carry out law enforcement functions comply with Kenya's international human rights obligations. Deliberately killing a criminal suspect rather than arresting them is an extrajudicial execution.

As the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions said, following his visit to Kenya in February 2009, "all Governments have to deal with criminals, and it is one of the central duties of a Government to protect its citizens from such persons. But ... the proper response to criminality is not to shoot a suspect in the back of the head ..., but to investigate, arrest, and try the suspect in accordance with law".

Amnesty International calls on the Kenyan authorities to ensure that independent and impartial investigations are carried out into all these killings, whether by suspected Mungiki members, by members of vigilante groups, or by the police. Those suspected of being responsible should be arrested and prosecuted in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty, and families of those killed should receive reparations.

Amnesty International also calls on the Kenyan authorities to investigate the role of the police and relevant security personnel in expressing support for the operations of vigilante groups carrying out killings of Mungiki members.

Quotes from Kenya government must protect the rights of all.

The Mungiki menace, and other militant groups need to be dealt with. It is alarming when some of the police force express their support for the Mungiki.

When I first heard about the Mungiki years ago, I assumed that part of their philosophy was not to kill their own people. These guys take butchering to another level altogether, and give me the creeps.

My prayers are with everyone who lost their lives, or was harmed by them last week.

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