Kenya: State – Excessive Force Used On Gang East African Standard (Nairobi)12 September 2007
Posted to the web 11 September 2007Jibril Adan
NairobiThe Government has made a tacit admission that excessive force was used to deal with the outlawed Mungiki sect.Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Ms Martha Karua, said police used “unusual measures” to counter the threat posed by the members of the organised criminal group, and that it resulted in heavy casualties on both sides but went on to say that the action was justified.“The law allows its enforcement agents to use force to defend other lives that are under threat,” she said at the 15th Commonwealth Law Conference, at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, yon Tuesday.Karua was referring to the crackdown on the Mungiki gang in which more than 400 people are claimed to have died. The operation came in June and July after the group carried out daring and gruesome killings that involved beheading.She said the threat posed by the Mungiki called for the use of unusual measures. “There was need to send a message that wanton killings would not be the way,” she said.Karua also said human rights activists do not include the lives of law enforcers in their agenda when agitating.However, Karua’s statements drew sharp reactions from some participants. One participant told Karua that the police force had engaged in extra-judicial killings.A commissioner with the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, Mr Hassan Omar, said they had allegations of 50 extra-judicial killings in the crackdown period.He said no one could justify the actions of policemen who killed innocent people and put guns next to their bodies to give the impression that they were criminals.Omar said efforts by the commission to investigate claims by relatives of the victims of the crackdown were met by “pedestrian reactions from the police”.Karua, however, maintained that police had the right to defend themselves against the gang that targeted them and the public.She called on the commission to work with police right from the training colleges to inculcate in officers the respect for human rights.Karua also said a Bill, The Organised Crimes Bill, pending in Parliament, would help contain criminal gangs.