Military rejects torture claims
Written By:AFP , Posted: Sat, Apr 26, 2008
The Kenyan military on Friday rejected accusations that its troops had tortured civilians in Mt Elgon district where it is battling a militia fighting for land rights.
“Our troops have investigated the allegations of torture where this is possible and found no evidence whatsover to support this claims,” Defence Minister Yusuf Haji told a press conference.
“Further, despite appeals in the media and elsewhere, those making allegations of torture by the security forces have made no formal complaints or reports whatsoever to the police or any entity that can test the veracity of their assertions.”
The Human Rights Watch group this month said the Kenyan military killed people, forced others to flee and detained and tortured detainees in a crack down on the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) militia.
The rights panel at the same time accused the SLDF of killings, mutilations and inhumane treatment of civilians as well as raping women, destroying and stealing property in the Mount Elgon area, near the border with Uganda.
The defence minister accused Elgon residents of torturing people before handing them over to security forces who launched an operation in March to flush out SDLF members who have killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands since 2006.
“For the record, early in the operation, some of the people arrested by the locals were handed over to the security forces already quite beaten up with some already displaying signs of old torture,” he said.
Haji urged anybody who had been tortured by the army to approach the authorities for a proper investigation.
The SLDF took up arms in 2005 to demand the end of a government settlement scheme which it deems unfair because it displaced the small Sabaot tribes from their ancestral land.