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US urges Kenya to reform police; judiciary

By | June 12th 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Maseme Machuka

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The United States has called on Kenya to enact "far-reaching reforms to strengthen the rule of law and, specifically, to implement key reforms of the police and the judicial system."

The US expressed concerns regarding the findings of the report, which the UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Killings Prof Philip Alston recently delivered to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In a statement, the US said it underscored the need for the report to be implement by the coalition government.

"We acknowledge the constructive statement made by the Kenyan delegation to the Human Rights Council acknowledging the severity of the problem of extrajudicial killings and pledging concrete actions to address the concerns raised in the Special Rapporteur's report. We urge the recently appointed Police Reform Task Force to examine seriously the concerns raised by the report of the Special Rapporteur when formulating its reform proposals," said the report from the US Embassy.

The United States, reiterated its position of "a strong friend and partner to Kenya," saying they were "ready to consider assistance to serious efforts to reform of the police and judiciary."

Kenya had promised to respect human rights and implement some of Alston’s recommendations.

"The Coalition Government was committed to reforms that would guarantee freedom for all. We are currently in the process of developing a comprehensive human rights policy and action plan to provide a roadmap to address the human rights challenges facing the country," said Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo and one of the delegation members to Geneva.

Twin challenge

While in Geneva, Mutula told the conference that ethnicity still posed a challenge to many developing countries, including Kenya, where national values are weak while tribal political parties and coalitions drive national politics.

"Kenya’s future as a nation depends on a twin challenge that includes the need to recognise and celebrate diversity and need to build a strong and cohesive national character," he said.

Kenya delegation, which had gone to Geneva divided, accepted Alston’s verdict.

The country’s response to Alston’s report brought to the fore the lack of consultations in Government that has characterised the 14-month-old coalition.

In the presentation, the Government admitted police commit extrajudicial killings.

"The Government acknowledges there have been cases of unlawful killings within the police force, in respect of which investigations into 53 cases have been completed and 81 police officers prosecuted since the year 2000," Internal Security Minister George Saitoti told the meeting in Geneva.

"We have found most of the recommendations in these reports constructive and useful, and remain committed to fulfilling our obligations," Prof Saitoti said.