01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: An Inconvenient Truth - extrajudicial killings in Kenya 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

An Inconvenient Truth - extrajudicial killings in Kenya

Another report; this time by a UN consultant Philip Alston who has been looking into extrajudicial killings that have been carried out by Kenyan police. Due to his findings, Mr Alston is calling for the sacking of the Attorney General and the Chief of Police. It adds another dimension to the already terrible reputation of Kenya having 'a culture of impunity' where everyone turns a blind eye to corruption. The allegations are that police are carrying out executions at will. When the report was released the Ministry of Defence dismissed it as irrelevant and 'full of lies'. Parliament have been struggling to form a response to the allegations.

The inconvenient truth is that everyone knew that this sort of thing has been happening for a long time. Not least the rulers of the country. For instance people knew that Mungiki sect members were being shot dead without trial in recent waves of police clamp downs. Mungiki members are mainly male youth who run protection rackets among other things, but they were becoming a menace when they started beheading innocent people in blatant acts of intimidation.

The police long ago gave up on the concept of taking criminals into the local judicial system because it is such a mess. For a while things have been getting out of hand. Things got worse during post election violence, the police dealt with the problem in the most effective way they knew how. I'm not defending this. Innocent people have obviously been caught in the cross fire and the police are acting with lawlessness presumably thanks to an OK from above.

Kiss FM are doing a phone in for family and friends of youths who are either missing or shot dead by police. It's not great listening.

It reminded me of a story told to me at a dinner party in Nairobi six years ago. A lady was telling us about her horrific burglary where she was tied up and intimidated by thugs at gun point. I might be a little hazy on the details but the gist went like this:

She was in her house at 7pm in the evening. She was tied up and so was her small child. A friend of hers happened to arrive and he (for some reason) was carrying a gun and he used it instinctively. A shoot out ensued and the burglars were trapped. One was shot dead by the friend (the friend was injured too) another could not escape before security backup and police arrived. The police went into the corridor where the surviving burglar hid and shot him dead in cold blood. They told the victim,
'you will never see justice in the courts for this. It is the only way.'

It is definitely time for change - of course things cannot carry on like this, but to overhaul the entire police and legal system will be a gigantic mountain to climb - and do Kenyan leaders have the will to do it?

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