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Lobby wants army barred from UN duty over torture

By | July 2nd 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By David Ochami

Human Rights Watch (HRW) wants the military and police units accused of torture barred from United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Security agencies have been accused of torturing and even killing innocent people in their operations in North Eastern and Western Kenya.

Consequently, HRW wants the UN to pile pressure on the Government to implement the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s report on extra-judicial killings by police and military.

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It also wants the UK, which trains Kenya’s anti-terrorist and other special forces, to stop helping the abusive units.

On Monday, HRW released a report on the October, last year disarmament operation by the two forces in Mandera. It accuses the forces of murder, torture and rape under the guise of searching for illegal arms.

Yesterday the Northern Forum for Democracy (NFD), another human rights lobby, termed the HRW report titled, Bring the Gun or Die, the most comprehensive inquest of atrocities against North Eastern Province residents since independence.

NFD Executive Director Khalif Abdi Farah called for implementation of the recommendations and questioned local MPs’ silence on the report. Mr Farah accused some MPs of subjecting the report to clan and sectarian interpretation.

HRW investigated the conduct of the forces in Wargadud, El Wak, Elele, Qaramadow, Lafey, Warankara and Damasa towns, following clashes between the Garre and Murule clans.

Group punishment

The report claims 91 residents from both clans were interviewed. Doctors, diplomats, NGO workers, nurses and community leaders then concluded that the two forces perpetrated widespread torture, rape, collective punishment and looting.

But Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe has dismissed the report and demanded evidence.

The report says the search for arms was turned into "brutal attacks on civilians, besides other acts including enforced disappearances."

It claims evidence of "shoot to kill orders," and calls for the prosecution of commanders and politicians who sanctioned them.