Kenya: Investigation into alleged police killing must be impartial

Amnesty International has called for the promised investigation into the alleged killing by Kenyan police of seven men to be impartial, independent and for the results to be made public.

On Wednesday night eye witnesses reported that seven men were shot dead by a group of administration police, during a police operation in Kawangare, an informal settlement in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Police officers claimed the men were part of a criminal gang, but witnesses say they were taxi drivers.

In a press conference yesterday, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe promised investigations into the shootings adding that any police officer found to have breached the law would be punished.

“The promise of a police investigation is a step in the right direction,” said Godfrey Odongo, Amnesty International’s East Africa researcher. “But unlike many previous investigations, this one must be impartial and independent and its findings must be made public and acted upon.”

In March 2009, two human rights activists were shot dead in their car while stopped in traffic in central Nairobi. The two had been campaigning against illegal killings by the police. An investigation into the murders has failed to bring anyone to trial.
Similarly, a taskforce set up to investigate alleged rapes by police during the post-election violence in late 2007 has failed to yield any results.
Under international law, Kenya is obliged to respect and protect the right to life of all its citizens. This includes taking effective measures to protect people against acts of violence and to bring perpetrators to justice.

Godfrey Odongo continued:

“Police should be the enforcers of law and must not be allowed to rise above it. Anyone identified by the inquiry as having been responsible for extra-judicial killings should be brought to justice in a trial and the families of those killed should be compensated.”

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