Defence minister Yusuf Haji denied allegations of human rights violations that have led to threats of a military aid ban on Kenya during a graduation ceremony at the Defence College in Karen, Nairobi June 7, 2012 ANTHONY OMUYA
By FRED MUKINDA | Daily Nation | Thursday, June 7 2012
Defence minister Yusuf Haji has denied allegations of human rights violations that have led to threats of a military aid ban on Kenya.
The matter is pending in the United States Congress with proposals to stop the yearly funding to Kenya Defence Forces and the police, unless the Kenyan Government demonstrates having conducted “credible investigations,” and action taken.
"There are no violations at all in human rights as far as the Defence Forces are concerned. In Mt Elgon, we have done thorough investigations and it was established that the Army was not involved in any action that suggests that people (civilians) were mistreated," said Mr Haji.
The allegations contained in a Bill by the Judiciary Committee of the US Senate, show that abuses were reported in Mt Elgon in 2008, and thereafter in Garissa, Mandera, Wajir and Daadab refugee camp between October 2011 and January this year.
In 2008, the Army and the police undertook Operation Okoa Maisha against the Sabaot Land Defence Forces, while the ongoing Operation Linda Nchi which started in October last year covers the other parts of the country, extending to neighbouring Somalia where the KDF is fighting the terrorist Al-Shabaab militia.
“We should be able to differentiate where there are units of government. As far as the Army is concerned, the question (of human rights abuses) has no basis,” said Mr Haji.
Part of the Bill to be debated by the US Senate reads in part: “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to take steps to ensure that no United States training, equipment, or other assistance is provided to any Kenyan military or police personnel who have been credibly alleged to have violated human rights.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to brief the committee if any action has been taken by the Kenya Government.
The reports adds: “The Secretary shall submit a report to the Committee on steps taken by the Government of Kenya to conduct thorough, credible investigations of such violations and the identification of military units responsible.”
If the Committees proposals are upheld by the Senate, Kenya could lose up to over one billion shillings accorded annually to Kenyan military in form of financial aid, equipment and training of personnel.
This year’s financial estimates show the US gave Kenya $14.1 million (Sh1.26 billion) for defence purposes, an increase from the preceding year.
US-based Human Rights Watch has been most vocal on allegations against KDF and police.
Last month, HRW, produced a report dubbed “Criminal Reprisals: Kenyan Police and Military Abuses against Ethnic Somalis,” which referred to activities that took place under Operation Linda Nchi.
The report said of the local security agencies: “ Kenyan police and army subjected hundreds of Kenyan citizens in North Eastern province, as well as over 100 Somali refugees, to beatings and other abuses. The abuses were in apparent response to attacks carried out by militants suspected of links to the Islamist Somali armed group, al-Shabaab, in the wake of Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.”
It added: “ In Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, and the refugee camps in Dadaab, police and soldiers were implicated in serious human rights violations including rape; attempted sexual assault; beatings; arbitrary detention; extortion; the looting and destruction of property; and various forms of physical mistreatment and deliberate humiliation. The Kenyan military detained scores of civilians despite the fact that it has no legal authority to do so. Six months after the abuses first came to light no one has been held accountable.”
The proposal to are contained in the Department of State, Foreign operations, and Related Programs and covers the financial year ending September 2013, and was sent for debate on May 24.
The Bill is sponsored by Democratic Party Senator Patrick Leahy, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.