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Report: Lack of accountability for criminal acts rampant in Kenya

Thursday March 14 2019

police brutality

A Kenyan opposition supporter begs for mercy from anti-riot policemen during protests in the Nairobi's Kibera slum, December 31, 2007. PHOTO | ANTONY NJUGUNA | REUTERS 

KEVIN J. KELLEY
By KEVIN J. KELLEY
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New York

Lack of accountability for criminal acts and human rights abuses are prevalent at all levels of government in Kenya, the US State Department report says.

In its worldwide human rights report issued on Wednesday, US State Department says impunity persists in Kenya “despite public statements by the president and deputy president addressing the issue,” states the Kenya section of the report.

The US does acknowledge reforms of the police and judiciary sectors. The report notes that the government's Independent Policing Oversight Authority “investigated numerous cases of misconduct” and has “continued to increase its capacity.”

But the Kenya government “took only limited and uneven steps to address cases of alleged unlawful killings by security force members,” the State Department adds in its review for 2018.

IMPUNITY

“Impunity in cases of alleged corruption were also common,” the report observes.

It however, points out that “President Kenyatta intensified his anti-corruption campaign launched in 2015, and the inspector general of police continued his strong public stance against corruption among police officers.”

The US lists several types of human rights violations said to have occurred in Kenya last year.

Among them are “unlawful and politically motivated killings; forced disappearances; torture; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention.”

The report further cites “arbitrary infringement of citizens’ privacy rights; censorship; lack of accountability in many cases involving violence against women, including rape and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); and criminalisation of same-sex sexual conduct.”

HUMAN RIGHTS

Kenya also has “an inefficient judiciary,” the State Department says.

The tenor of the findings on Kenya in the latest US human rights report does not differ markedly from the annual assessments issued during the Obama administration.

The State Department in the Trump era appears to be continuing the practice of criticising human rights conditions in some countries, such as Kenya, that are closely allied with the US.

But the Trump administration is taking a softer stance on women's reproductive rights than was the case in earlier State Department reports, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

PENALTIES

The US-based non-governmental watchdog group notes that the 2018 report omits country-level analysis of maternal mortality and “unmet contraceptive needs.”

The Trump team's decision to once again ignore these types of abuses in annual human rights reports occurs in the context of a US policy that limits aid to some women's reproductive health groups in developing countries, Human Rights Watch says.

A so-called “global gag rule” adopted by the Trump administration imposes US financial penalties on organisations that offer access to abortion services or lobby for loosening restrictions in national laws covering abortion.