Gichugu MP Martha Karua has accused President Kibaki’s administration of carrying out more extrajudicial killings than the Moi regime.
But the government swiftly dismissed her claims as a political statement. Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the government was not going to “get caught up in the political drama”.
Ms Karua, a former minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said that when President Kibaki took over in 2002 there was hope that extrajudicial killings would be an issue of the past, but that has not been the case.
“There have been more deaths, extrajudicial killings, under the Kibaki government than there ever were in the Moi regime,” she said.
Ms Karua was speaking on Thursday at the opening of the East African Human Rights Defenders conference in Nairobi.
The two-day meeting will see human rights defenders from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi exchange their experiences and come up with strategies for strengthening their campaigns.
The Gichugu MP admitted that in 2007 her office was aware of such deaths and was investigating them even as the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) tried to point them out.
“They presented a report of 500 cases of extrajudicial killings,” she said. “I thought they were exaggerating but after a closer look and listening more, I realised that there were more than documented.”
KNCHR’s vice-chairperson Hassan Omar Hassan said they had identified a “systematic failure” of the government to protect its people from extrajudicial killings, therefore implicating itself.
He accused Dr Mutua of having information regarding the 2009 killing of human rights activists Kamau King’ara and Paul Oulo.
He claimed that the two were shot down by the police along State House road. “How did he know that they were receiving money to fund unlawful groups?” Mr Hassan asked.
Ms Karua said when pressure regarding the killings mounted, she spoke out in Parliament.
Indeed, in November 2009 she sought to know the security situation in the country following the allegations of a police squad set up to kill suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki sect.