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Kenya has impressed the UN Rights Council, Alston now says

By | June 5th 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Standard Team

UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston supported the Government pledge for reforms to stop extrajudicial killings.

In a telephone interview, Prof Alston denied that he undermined Kenya’s sovereignty, saying he was invited by the Government to assess the human rights’ situation.

"The UN Human Rights Council is impressed. Kenya has sent a strong message to other nations that it was keen on improving on its bad situation through reforms," Alston said.

He said the coalition Government should implement reforms.

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Alston, however, maintained that Police Commissioner Hussein Ali and Attorney-General Amos Wako should step aside.

"Kenya has a perfect opportunity to redeem its image and respect in the international community by implementing the recommendations," Alston said.

He said he wanted to see measurable success in the implementation of reform programmes.

Death squads

"Death squads in the police force must be tamed and Mt Elgon abuses investigated comprehensively," he said. Lands Minister James Orengo, who was part of the delegation to the 11th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said it was a "victory moment" for Kenya.

"By acknowledging extra judicial killings, Kenya has sent a positive signal of willingness to change," Mr Orengo said.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo assured the international community that the Government was committed to protection of human rights.

The Government was put on its defence following reports of gross human rights abuse contrary to the UN Rights Charter Kenya is party to.

Yesterday, Mutula claimed media reports had painted the country negatively and that the Kenyan delegation to the 11th session of the UN Human Right Council in Geneva was hard pressed to shed light on the alleged abuses.

Mutula said the Government was not at war with rights activists.

Speaking to The Standard from Geneva, Mutula said he had also explained how the Government was working under the National Accord.

Meanwhile, the EU has called for the implementation of the Alston report. The 19 heads of missions said they were concerned by dismissive responses to the report.

"We urge the coalition to show it has taken the report seriously and is taking action to investigate and punish killings," they said in a statement.

And, Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua rejected what he called " the wholesale condemnation" of the police on extra judicial Killings. He said many police officers do "a great job under difficult circumstances".

By David Ohito, Lucianne Limo and Beauttah Omanga

UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston
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