News 2008

 

Kenya military on spot over torture

By OLIVER MATHENGE and ZULEKHA NATHOO

DAILY NATION

Monday, July 28 2008

In Summary

- HRW report says 37 people disappeared after being taken into custody.
- Since 2006, the SLDF has killed more than 600 people.
- Rights body says security operation was necessary, but criticises methods used.

Human rights organizations are calling on the Kenya Government to come clean on terror tactics allegedly used to fight insurgents in Mt. Elgon.

Related Stories

* Military gives findings on Sabaot militia
* Ministers defend army’s role
* UN to probe Army role in Mt Elgon
* Stop this vendetta against the military

Related Downloads

* HRW report on torture in Mt Elgon
* MSF Report on Mt. Elgon Security Operation

In a published report called “All The Men Have Gone”, Human Rights Watch claimed that hundreds of men were rounded up and tortured by Kenyan police and military earlier this year.

The report also claims at least 37 people have “disappeared” after being taken into custody.

Kenyan police and military forces went into the western Kenyan area of Mt. Elgon in March after the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF), a rebel militia group, had been terrorizing villagers for two years.

“The military operation was necessary,” said Ben Rawlence, a consultant with Human Rights Watch.

“What we disagree with is the way in which it was done. The reason why Kenya is a democratic state is because it has laws that need to be followed.”

The report claims that in an effort to round up all members of the SLDF, police forces “screened” nearly 4,000 people in the area and beat hundreds of victims with sticks, chains and rifles.

The report also claims that the bodies of those who died were then picked up by helicopter and dumped in the nearby forest.

“They cannot get away with this,” said Hassan. “This is not the 1950s. This is not the 60s, 70s or 80s. This is a new season for Kenya and there has to be accountability.”

Since 2006, the SLDF has killed more than 600 people, kidnapped, tortured and raped men and women who opposed them or their political supporters, says the report.

The organization says it gathered information through personal interviews, field investigations and research from its counterparts in Kenya.

Other human rights organizations are concerned about the consequences to Mt. Elgon if the alleged abuses by the government aren’t addressed.

“To us, this society is traumatized. It’s a society that might produce warlords so something must be done,” said Taiga Wanyanja, coordinator for the Mwatikho Torture Survivors Organization.

Human Rights Watch is calling on the United States and the United Kingdom, both of whom give financial support and training to the Kenyan military, to suspend their assistance until there is an independent investigation of these alleged crimes.

 

 

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