WAR OF WORDS

Commissioner, rights group clash over Mombasa suspects' killings

Muhuri accuses police of extrajudicial killings

In Summary
  • Elungata said the police are allowed to use firearms in incidences where their lives are threatened. 
  • - However, Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa said police are not allowed to kill suspects when there are court processes that should be followed.
Coast regional coordinator John Elungata at the Liwatoni floating bridge on Thursday.
DEFENSIVE Coast regional coordinator John Elungata at the Liwatoni floating bridge on Thursday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

Coast regional coordinator John Elungata has defended police action in dealing with criminals in the region.

Last Saturday, police gunned down five suspected criminals at Mbungoni area of Bombolulu.

Police said the five, were holed up in a room which was their operation centre and were killed after engaging police in a shootout.

However, Muslims for Human Rights accused the police of extra-judicial killings saying some of those who were alleged to be among the five suspected had actually been in police custody for about 10 days.

On Thursday, Elungata said the government does not exist to eliminate people but to fight crime.

“The government must fight crime. Any criminal who confronts the police with firearms is actually fighting a war and police will not watch such people harm others,” said Elungata at the Liwatoni floating bridge.

He said the police are allowed to use firearms in incidences where their lives are threatened or where the lives of people they are protecting are threatened by a person who is armed.

“And so to accuse government of malpractice when we know that that group that the police dealt with is a group that has been killing people here in Mombasa is wrong," he said.

“Why doesn’t Muhuri see the death of that innocent little girl who was taking money to the bank in the morning? These are the same people who shot the lady and took away her money. They didn’t care,” Elungata added.

However, Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa  said police are not allowed to kill suspects when there are court processes that should be followed.

He said Elungata is only trying to whip up public emotions against human rights organisations by portraying them as insensitive to human lives.

He said there is no difference between the police and the criminals if both parties kill.

“What makes the police different is that their role to maintain law and order. If the criminals kill and the police kill, then what difference is there?” posed Khalifa on phone.

Elungata said there has to be some sense of proportion when human rights crusaders talk about government action.

He noted that government is aware of the many things that happen in Mombasa but there is time for everything, including time to take action, time to warn or time to analyse priorities.

He said accusing the government of hiring white foreigners in executing Kenyans is going overboard.

Muhuri and some relatives of people killed by police have alleged on several cases that white foreigners are usually involved in the operations that eliminate their loved ones.

UK Declassified, a UK-based publication, has also released several reports indicating that American intelligence agency Central Intelligence Agency and British’s MI6 have been aiding the Kenyan Anti-Terrorism Police Unit in executing suspects.

The National Police Service, through spokesperson Charles Owino, has however denied this on several occasions.

On Thursday, Elungata said:  "Some of the people who pretended to be crying are relatives of the suspects. These are people who come to cry for money.” 

He said police officers are blamed when crime happens, when they are slow to act and when suspects get away with crime but also condemned when they act, putting them in a difficult position.

“Can’t we have a sense of love for the police?” he posed.

On Friday, Khalifa said Elungata has no idea what is happening on the ground.

“He doesn’t have any clue that elite forces from Nairobi come for major operations in Mombasa. He has no idea who these people are. Even the local police stations like Nyali police station didn’t know anything. So he should not defend them,” Khalifa said.

He said police should concentrate on their work to maintain law and order and let human rights organisations do theirs.

“Our work is to check the police. Theirs is to maintain law and order. We should not interfere with each other’s work,” said Khalifa.

He said nothing prevents the police from arresting the suspects they claim have been killing people.

“If they accuse these people of doing several criminal activities, it means they know them. What then prevents them from arresting them and taking them to court?" he posed.

“There is nowhere in law that says police should kill,” Khalifa noted, adding that Elungata’s sentiments are misplaced.

He said security officers, if they do genuine work, should not be hiding the number plates of the cars that are used in their missions.

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara

Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa, Benedict Mugure's sister Juliana Nyambura, Muhuri rapid response officer Francis Auma and Haki Africa deputy executive director Salma Ahmed at Muhuri Legal Aid Clinic on Wednesday.
DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa, Benedict Mugure's sister Juliana Nyambura, Muhuri rapid response officer Francis Auma and Haki Africa deputy executive director Salma Ahmed at Muhuri Legal Aid Clinic on Wednesday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI
KPA acting MD Rashid Salim and Coast regional coordniator Joh Elunagat at the Liwatoni floating bridge on Thursday.
STRATEGY KPA acting MD Rashid Salim and Coast regional coordniator Joh Elunagat at the Liwatoni floating bridge on Thursday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO