28 May 2012

Kenya: Police May be Prosecuted Over Uganda Renditions

The government is being compelled to prosecute officials including senior police officers who were involved in transferring Kenyans to Uganda in relation to the Kampala bombing in July 2010. This is after MPs last week endorsed a report prepared by the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee that has far reaching implications on the fight against terrorism in Kenya and its neighbours.

Among other things, the report recommends Kenyan suspects being tried in Uganda over alleged complicity in the planning of the bombing brought back home to face trial locally. The government has been asked to take full responsibility for the rendition which the House agreed was unconstitutional. "All individuals who authorized the rendition of Kenyans to Uganda be investigated and prosecuted," reads in part the report.

With adoption of the report, the rules require that the matter be taken up by the Attorney General. He is required to ensure each recommendation is transmitted to the relevant ministry for action. Parliament has powers to censure State officials who fail to adhere to the resolutions of the House. The Kenyans were detained in 2010 and taken to Uganda for questioning about two suicide bomb attacks on crowds of people watching World Cup football matches in July 11 of that year.

5 Kenyans were arrested in Kenya and handed to Uganda authorities while 11 others arrested in Uganda. Several of them, including the executive director of a Nairobi-based Muslim Human Rights Forum Al-Amin Kimathi, have since been released. The Somali militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed 79 people and injured 96.

In the report, the Defence committee which is chaired by Wajir West MP Adan Keynan observed that legal provisions for extradition were not followed and the whole process was unconstitutional. "The rendition and subsequent holding of Kenyans in Ugandan prisons facilities violates the fundamental freedoms and liberties of the affected Kenyans as provided for under the Constitution, customary international law, as well as International Treaties and Conventions on Human Rights which Kenya is a signatory," the report reads. "The threat of terrorism is real. However, notwithstanding the security challenge as a result of terrorism, the law must be adhered to," the report adds.

When he appeared before the committee, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said the decision to rendition was a government decision that was taken for the interest of the country. Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere on his part said the arrests were done after thorough investigations done by Kenya authorities in collaboration with the Uganda, United Kingdom and United States security agencies.

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