The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has received information from the Kenyan Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Kenya, members of the SOS Torture Network, concerning ongoing torture and extrajudicial killings by the Kenyan Army and Police in the Mount Elgon District in the Western Province of the country.
It is reported that since the start of operations in March 2008, the military has been responsible for the execution of thousands of men and boys from the Sabaot community in Mount Elgon District. It is believed that many have died while undergoing torture, and that others have subsequently died in prison due to injuries received during their interrogation. To date the Government of Kenya has taken no steps to halt this situation.
The human rights abuses by the police and army are carried out in the context of operations against the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF), an organization that has itself been responsible for grave human rights abuses in the Mount Elgon area. At the root of this conflict lies the question of land ownership and competing claims over land title, particularly in the Chebyuk settlement area of Mount Elgon. The deaths, injuries and displacement that are a direct result of the military operations also have a serious impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of the population of the affected areas.
OMCT joins with IMLU and ICJ Kenya in calling on the Government of Kenya to order an immediate suspension of the military operation in the Mount Elgon area and to establish an independent commission to ensure that all those responsible for human rights violations are brought to trial and that victims of torture and their families receive just and adequate reparation. OMCT, IMLU and ICJ Kenya also call on the Government to take concerted steps to reach fair and just resolutions to land disputes in Mount Elgon and elsewhere, independent of political and ethnic interests.