Monday, July 4, 2011

Torture victims set to get justice at last

A trading centre at Chebyuk Settlement Scheme Phase Three in Mt Elgon District before a military operation to weed out members of the illegal Sabaot Land Defence Force militia group. Calm has returned to the mountain but at a high price. Photo/JARED NYATAYA

Photo/FILE A trading centre at Chebyuk Settlement Scheme Phase Three in Mt Elgon District before a military operation to weed out members of the illegal Sabaot Land Defence Force militia group on March 8, 2009.  

By RICHARD MUNGUTI [email protected]

Victims of security forces’ atrocities in Mount Elgon between 2006 and 2008 are set to get justice at last.

Five East African Court of Justice judges sitting in Arusha criticised the Kenyan Government for failing to take legal action against the perpetrators of injustice.

The judges allowed an application by lawyer Diana Kethi Kilonzo to commence a case against the government for failing to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity during a military operation in the region.

The judges ruled that the Independent Medical Unit (IMU), through Ms Kilonzo, had established that the government breached rule 24 of the East African Treaty “by failing to prevent, investigate or punish those responsible for execution, acts of torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment of more than 3,000 Kenyan residents of Mount Elgon District”.

The ruling was delivered by Judges Johnstone Busingye, Mary Stella Arach-Amoko, John Mkwawa, Jean Bosco Butasi and Benjamin Kubo on June 29.

“Upon careful consideration of the matters complained of are failures in a whole continuous chain or events from the alleged violations started until the claimant (IMU) decided that Republic of Kenya failed to provide any remedy,” the judges ruled.

Killed innocents

In its case, IMU alleged that the security personnel who committed the offences had been deployed to flush out the Sabaot Land Defence Force militants who indiscriminately killed innocent people in the region.

The court dismissed an application by Attorney-General Amos Wako to have the suit struck out on grounds that it was filed out of the stipulated time of two months from the date of the commission of the alleged injustice.

The judges rejected another objection by the AG that the court lacked jurisdiction to deal with human rights issues under the East African Treaty under Article 27.