Government urged to probe past human rights abuses

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Amnesty International says Equatorial Guinea must put an end to executions (Amnesty International)

The human rights body, Amnesty International, has urged Kenya's new government to launch thorough investigations into all alleged human rights abuses committed in the past, as part of its commitment to uphold the rule of law and stamp out impunity.

In a memorandum sent to the government, Amnesty said it was encouraged by the "positive signs" for human rights in Kenya expressed by the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government.

NARC, which swept to victory in the December 2002 elections, promised to make sweeping changes in the government in order to fight impunity and corruption, and to revive most of the country's dilapidated institutions.

"As the new government takes office, Amnesty International calls on the newly-elected leaders to commit themselves to respect and uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people, enshrined in domestic law as well as in the international human rights treaties signed and ratified by Kenya," the human rights body said.

"In line with these commitments, the government of Kenya should take prompt actions in these areas by introducing the appropriate legislations in parliament where these are required and taking any other required administrative steps," it added.

In particular, Amnesty urged the government to act on the human rights abuses described in the Akiwumi Commission report, which investigated politically motivated ethnic lashes in the country between 1992 and 1997, as well as all political assassinations and "disappearances".

"Those found responsible must be brought to justice," Amnesty declared.

It also urged the government to prioritise the ongoing constitutional reform process, in order to guarantee the human rights and freedoms of all Kenyans in the long term.

"Every Kenyan has the right to live in a society where their basic rights are respected in law and in practice," it said. "All those who now govern Kenya should commit themselves publicly to making human rights a reality for Kenyans."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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