Friday, May 16, 2008
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
has called for an investigation into allegations of torture committed
by security forces deployed in the clash-torn Mt Elgon district in
"In seeking to return sanity to the area as a
result of the atrocities being committed in the area, the military
should stop the excesses of the security forces deployed therein," the
commission said on 15 May when it launched a report, The Mountain of
Terror, which highlights some of the atrocities allegedly committed by
the security forces and a militia group that has been active in the
area since 2006.
The commission said it had written to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Louise Arbour, urging her to recommend to the UN Security Council the
suspension of Kenya's armed forces in any ongoing or future UN
peacekeeping missions "on account of the violations".
the police denied the commission's allegations of torture by security
officials. Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the police, instead, had
evidence of acts of torture committed by Sabaot Land Defence Force
(SLDF) militiamen but these would only be released once the
investigations were complete.
"We have details of the
atrocities committed by this criminal gang but, for the security of the
victims, we cannot release them to the press because the security
operation is ongoing and investigations are not complete," Kiraithe
"So far, since the military operation started in the
district, there has been only one case of murder reported," Kiraithe
told IRIN. "The operation will continue because we are determined to
rid the district of this criminal gang."
government deployed security forces - comprising the army and police -
to Mt Elgon in March to quell an insurgency by the SLDF, which claims
to be defending the land rights of the dominant Sabaot community in the
SLDF was formed to seek redress for alleged
injustices during land distribution in the Chebyuk settlement scheme,
with the conflict pitting two main clans of the Sabaot - Mosop (also
known as Ndorobo) and Soy – against each other.
intervention is proving to be counterproductive since it has actually
participated in gross human rights violations in the area," KNCHR said.
"Sources told the commission that the military torture members of the
Sabaot community to death and those who survive are taken to the police
station. Those who die are taken to Kamarang hill in Mt Elgon where it
is alleged that they are buried en masse."
commission said the nature of the injuries inflicted on suspected
militiamen included sexual violence to genitals; being forced to
torture each other (pulling each others' genitals and whipping each
other); forced to witness torture by the military; food and sleep
deprivation; broken arms and legs; submerging in sewage; hanging upside
down from a moving helicopter; forced to crawl in razor wire; deep
lacerations resulting from whip lashes; bullet wounds; forced to
swallow sand; and powdered pepper inserted into women’s vaginas.
commission said it was of the view that the use of force in the
district had not elicited positive results and might have served to
worsen the security situation.
"KNCHR further proposes that
the government seeks to reach out to the militia in an effort to stop
further bloodshed in the area," the commission said. "However, KNCHR
believes there should be no amnesty for perpetrators of gross
violations of human rights."
It also proposed that the
government should come up with an acceptable formula of sharing out
land between the Mosop (Ndorobo) and Soy, the two dominant clans of the
Sabaot, "as opposed to an imposed formula that leads to fresh clashes".
The SLDF was formed in 2005 in a bid to resist government
efforts to evict squatters from the Chebyuk settlement scheme in the
district. KNCHR said the militia had, since 2006, been accused of
killing at least 600 people and terrorising the community through
physical assaults, threats and atrocities such as murder, torture,
rape, theft and destruction of property. An estimated 66,000 people
have been displaced over an 18-month period.
Meanwhile, many residents of the district are facing food shortages because of the military operation.
availability, for many residents, is a problem given the ongoing
military operation, which has an impact on the flow of food in markets
as well as access to markets by both the locals and the traders,"
Anthony Mwangi, the public relations manager of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), told IRIN.
Mwangi said food distribution by KRCS was ongoing, targeting thousands
of people. The society was distributing maize, beans, cooking oil and
soap, he said.
"Both the displaced and those still in their
homes are facing food shortages; but we are trying our best to
intervene by distributing food, especially to the vulnerable," Col
Yulu, the regional disaster preparedness and response officer for the
Source: IRIN NEWS http://irinnews.org