By Samson Omondi
The state is primarily responsible for ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights. It should perform this responsibility within the confines of the law. It should also perform this role without discrimination, bias and in line with all the principles and standards of human rights.
The pattern in which the state has dealt with various cases of breakdown in law and order has proved that there is need to change tact. There is need to possibly adopt other means that would yield results for Kenyans. The means should make the state the duty bearer as a requirement.
Rise of crime and government response
The wave of crime we witness in Kenya began getting out of hand in the early 1990s.
The government responded by creating a specialized unit within the Police known as the Flying Squad. The government granted the force powers to deal with all crimes in the manner they deemed fit so long as the country was safe.
The Flying Squad led to the deaths of many people under the guise of maintaining law and order. However, this did not ensure the safety and security of our country.
Instead, it was during this period that various criminal gangs such as the Mungiki, the Taliban, and the Gaza started sprouting. They went beyond control leading to others like the Superpower gang in Eastleigh that recruits young boys. The gang is ruthless and it has led to immense suffering among many.
Therefore, the establishment of Flying Squad that committed many human rights violations did not solve the problem at all.
Sabaot Land Defence Force
In 2008, the Government sent the Kenya Defense Forces moved to Mt. Elgon to quell a protracted land conflict in the region. This was in response to human rights violations caused by a ragtag militia, the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF).
SLDF terrorized the local population leading to the death of over 600 people. It also led to multiple injuries, loss of property and other damages.
In response, the Kenya Defence Force (KDF) engaged in several human rights abuses. They included allegations of torture, deaths, rape, and enforced disappearances.
Many applauded the actions by the army in flushing out the Sabaot Land Defence Force militia. However, the operation did not bring a lasting solution to the problem in the region. The conflict continues, albeit on a smaller scale.
This means that the use of KDF and their subsequent violations failed to provide a lasting solution to the problems facing the region.
Terror attacks in Kenya
Following the various terror attacks in Kenya, the government set up the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU). The unit was to deal with all terror related cases within the country. ATPU was also a response to the global threat of terrorism.
The unit has received praise for the various efforts it has taken to combat terrorism in the country. However, it faces accusations of human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests, deaths, torture, and enforced disappearances. Yet, it has failed to deal with terror threats conclusively.
It is during ATPU’s existence that we faced several terror attacks such as the daring Westgate Mall and Garissa University attacks. These terror attacks led to multiple loss of lives and injuries.
Therefore, the creation of the ATPU and its subsequent ruthless actions has not solved the threat of terror, both within and outside Kenya.
Need for a lasting solution
The cases highlighted above prove that not even extrajudicial killings will address the runaway crime in the country.
The government and other stakeholders must seek solutions that respect and promote human rights in dealing with this problem.
In the absence of a clear way forward, we shall continue to witness more executions that are extrajudicial.
The writer is a Human Rights Officer at KNCHR
(This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on Ureport)