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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 12:22 GMT
Police are Kenya's top killers
Kenya policeman
Kenya's police are seen as trigger-happy
Up to 90% of people shot dead in Kenya last year were victims of police, according to a report published in a Kenyan newspaper.

Over the past five years, police have killed more people than criminals, says the study drawing on figures from five high-crime areas around the country.

Gunshot deaths
1997-2000: police cause 60%
2001: police cause 90%
2001: police kill 232
2001: gangsters kill 23
The study, presented in Australia by Chief Government Pathologist Dr Kirasi Olumbe, does not specify whether the victims were innocent civilians or criminals, shot after refusing to surrender.

Police spokesman Peter Kimanthi rejected the report and accused the authors of trying to malign hard-working officers.

Kenya's police already have a reputation for brutality.

Last year, officers were reported to have executed seven suspected robbers after ordering them out of a minibus taxi.

'Unjustified'

The study draws on figures from Nairobi's City Mortuary, where all gun-shot victims are examined.

It says that since 1997, 60% of gunshot deaths were caused by police.

Kenya policeman
Police were accused of rape during last year's clashes in Kibera's slum

Thirty-nine per cent were shot by criminals and 1% were accidents or suicides.

But in 2001, 232 people were shot dead by police, compared to 23 victims of criminals - meaning that the forces of law and order were responsible for 90% of gunshot deaths.

"It could be argued that the increase in police shootings was in response to the increase in fire-armed criminals they confronted," says the report.

"But some might see it as an increase in unjustified lethal shootings by the police."

The figures come from gunshot deaths in Nairobi, as well as the towns of Kiambu, Thika, Kajiado and Machakos.

Police spokesman Peter Kimanthi said that the report did not mention all the firearms the police had recovered.

"This is not a true picture... We have succeeded in reducing the rate of crime," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa.

Walking free

The killings of seven people in Nairobi last July caused a public outcry.

Eyewitnesses and the Kenya Human Rights Commission claim police officers shot and killed the suspects after disarming them and making them lie face down along a busy road.

Kenyan minibus or 'matatu'
Witnesses say the victims were ordered out of a minibus and shot dead

The police claimed the deaths followed a shoot-out but this was contradicted by eye-witnesses quoted in local newspapers.

Calls for an external investigation into the allegations against the officers were ignored and police conducted an internal enquiry.

Five months later, the accused officers are all still working, says the Daily Nation.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Muliro Telewa in Nairobi
"Parliamentary reports indicate that the government settles many (cases of wrongful killing) out of court"
See also:

06 Dec 01 | Africa
'Hundreds raped' in Kenya clashes
27 Jul 01 | Africa
Kenya police 'executed' robbers
02 May 00 | Africa
Police killed in Kenya clash
06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya lynch mob fears
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kenya
06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya's vigilante problem
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