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Kenya probe links president to rights abuses

Special commission says Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy helped plan and fund post-election violence in 2007.

Last Modified: 22 May 2013 16:38
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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have been named in a report investigating post-election violence and human rights abuses between 2007 and 2008.

In a report released late on Tuesday, a special commission said Kenyatta and Ruto helped to plan and fund the violence, allegations that the president has denied.

The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report did not recommend any action against the two leaders for their role in the violence, in which about 1,500 people died and 600,000 were displaced from their homes.

Kenyatta and Ruto are already facing similar charges before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Al Jazeera's Peter Greste, reporting from the capital Nairobi, said the release of the report was "quite startling" and caught "a lot of attention".

The commission was formed as part of a reform process to prevent a repeat of the 2007-2008 post-election violence, as well as investigate other past abuses.

Kenya's state security agencies, particularly the police and army, have been the main perpetrators of human rights violations, including massacres, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence, the report said.

The report's findings also revealed that Kenyatta's father, Jomo Kenyatta, the country's first president, presided over a government responsible for numerous human rights violations, including political assassinations and illegal land allocation.

Jomo Kenyatta, who held office from 1963 to 1978, ran a government that failed to remove the repressive state structures established by the British colonial government and used those laws to perpetrate human rights violations, according to the report.

Our correspondent said, the issue of land distribution has been "the heart of of so many disputes" in Kenya.

Historical injustices

The commission report also blamed the media for allowing many violations to occur with little public scrutiny.

In addition, the report found that two former presidents, Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki were also responsible for massacres, economic crimes and large-scale corruption during their time in office.

Human rights were further violated by the creation of the one-party state by the Moi administration resulting in severe repression of political dissent and intimidation of the media, the report added. 

A previous government report in 2008 found "historical injustices" such as unequal land distribution were partly responsible for the violence.

The new report reinforced the 2008 findings, saying that historical grievances over land constitute the single most important driver of conflicts and ethnic tension in Kenya.

According to Al Jazeera's Greste, the report has also called for a reparation fund to compensate victims, and for the government, the judiciary, the security forces and the British government to apologise for the abuses.

Greste said that there's "a great deal of public" scepticism about the report.

"But the fact that this commission happened at all. The fact that the victims were able to speak publicly, and have their grievances recorded and documented in great detail will go a long way towards doing the job of reconciliation that this country so badly needs," Greste said.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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