February 26, 2009 / 4:38 PM / in 9 years

Kenya to study U.N. report on police killings

NAIROBI, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Kenya’s government said on Thursday it would study a report by a U.N. investigator who said the police chief and attorney-general should be fired because of hundreds of alleged murders by security forces.

Wednesday’s report by Philip Alston, U.N. rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, prompted a stern response from Kenya’s Information Ministry, which accused him of acting in bad faith and exceeding his mandate.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said he also took exception to how Alston had released his findings. But he said the government would still study his conclusions closely.

“We will study it and decide, how do we handle it?” Wetangula told a news conference in the capital Nairobi.

“As a government we let him do his work ... It is important for us to verify if the report is based on facts, innuendo or both, and then take necessary remedial actions. We’ll see which of his recommendations are implementable and which are not.”

The U.N. report was damning of Kenya’s coalition government, already criticised by donors and the public over corruption and rights abuses.

“KILLING WITH IMPUNITY”

Alston said the Kenyan police had become a law unto themselves, and killed often and with impunity.

He said his 10-day visit to the east Africa nation had backed accusations that security forces killed 500 suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki crime gang, 400 political demonstrators during a post-election crisis last year, and 200 suspected rebels from the western region of Mount Elgon.

He accused national police boss Hussein Ali of “stonewalling” his investigation, and described attorney-general Amos Wako as the “embodiment of ... impunity” in Kenya.

At a separate news conference on Thursday, Justice Minister Martha Karua said the government was concentrating on institutional reforms, not taking action against individuals.

“The report raises some views, some of which are true, but we disagree with most of his conclusions,” she said.

Alston’s report came as public frustration with the country’s “grand coalition” government grows. The administration was formed last April to end a post-election crisis that killed 1,300 people and drove 300,000 more from their homes.

Fresh allegations of multi-million-dollar corruption scandals in the maize and oil sectors of east Africa’s biggest economy have dismayed many Kenyans.

Ambassadors from 13 Western nations including the United States and Britain issued a joint statement on Thursday saying Alston’s report could not be simply dismissed.

“We consider his mission as an important element in efforts to ensure that the Kenyan reform agenda remains on track,” the envoys said. “We urge government and parliament to take seriously their responsibility to ensure that justice prevails.” (Additional reporting by Frank Nyakairu and Humphrey Malalo; writing by Daniel Wallis; editing by Andrew Roche)

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