Alston speaks to Time magazine about Kenya's police force

Alston speaks to Time magazine about Kenya's police force

John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, spoke with Time magazine this week about the firing of Kenyan Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali. Last February, Alston led a 10-day mission to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects and others by Kenyan police. During a February 25 press conference announcing the findings of the investigation, Alston urged President Mwai Kibaki to dismiss Ali, calling the acts "systematic, widespread, and clearly planned."


Over six months later, on September 8, Ali was relieved of his position, and Alston downplayed the potential for this move to lead to further reform in the Kenyan government.


"Of course it's possible that the new commissioner will actually take some significant steps, but there's no indication of that," Alston said in the September 16 Time article. "And there's no suggestion in his background that he's going to do anything other than business as usual."


In his final report, released May 28, Alston stated that Kenya’s “investigation, prosecution and judicial processes are slow and corrupt,” and that a full investigation into Ali’s role in the killings, rapes, and corruption in the Kenyan police force was necessary.


Ali denied the accusations, but Alston maintains that all tracks lead back to the former Commissioner. “One thing that was clear from all of those with whom I spoke was that Commissioner Ali was totally on top of everything,” Alston told Time. “Nothing happened that he wasn't aware of, and he was criticized in fact for micromanaging.”


Meanwhile, Time reports that the Kenyan government is essentially terming the move for Ali—who will become the chief executive of the Postal Corporation of Kenya—a routine change, while human rights activists think the move is a political tactic to divert attention from calls for wider reform.


A Kenyan police task force is compiling a report on the accusations, which is expected to be released in the coming weeks, and according to Time, “is expected to call for a complete overhaul of the police force.”


Posted on September 21, 2009