|It is imperative that when faced with threats from armed criminal gangs, bandits, ethnic militias or rebels, the Government moves with haste and spares no effort in neutralising the problem.
A State that is unable to deal with internal threats to security and basic issues of law and order is spineless. Those are indicators of a failed State.
But strong, firm and decisive action does not have to translate into gross human rights violations, suspension of civil liberties, torture, extra-judicial executions and abrogation of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
Many applauded when the Government took the extraordinary step of deploying the army to tackle the murderous armed gang in Mt Elgon District styling itself the Sabaot Land Defence Force.
Now reports coming out of a region that has been virtually declared a military operation zone are too frightening to ignore. Cases are being documented of arbitrary arrests and detention, systematic torture, killings and other abuses on a vast scale.
The military and the Ministry of Defence have routinely dismissed the reports, but the tales coming out of Mt Elgon are too consistent to be just ignored.
All reports of torture and killings must be investigated thoroughly and any organ or individual found culpable made to face the law.
The Government must also immediately lift the very irregular orders that have sealed off Mt Elgon from the media, the Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies and human rights organisations.
It is only when there is independent verification of what exactly is taking place in the area that the Government’s denials can be taken seriously.
The Government should also respond truthfully to persistent claims that special police squads have been hunting down and executing leaders of Mungiki.
Kenyans deserve a country where there is no room for Mungiki, the Sabaot Land Defence Force, bandits, cattle-rustlers or the militias responsible for ethnic violence in Rift Valley and elsewhere.
But then the Government that is responsible for ensuring security must not break the law in order to enforce the law.