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HRW urges Kenya to end impunity for human rights offenders

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] on Sunday called on Kenya's political leaders to enact reforms that would hold both recent and past human rights violators accountable for their actions in order to ensure lasting stability in the country. HRW's statement [text] praised efforts by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] to broker a deal between ruling and opposition parties to bring an end to the violence resulting from the country's hotly disputed 2007 presidential election [JURIST reports], but also called for broader judicial and institutional reforms that would address past incidents of political violence during the 1990s. HRW noted that past task forces have tried to address these problems but were ineffective because either their findings were suppressed or their recommendations were not implemented. "Ensuring accountability and implementing reforms will not be easy, but sweeping these issues under the rug again will hinder efforts for lasting peace and justice," Africa director at Human Rights Watch Georgette Gagnon said in the statement. Bloomberg has more.

In all, almost 1,000 people have been killed and 250,000 displaced since protests of the election began in late December. Thirteen nations, including several European Union members and the United States, have threatened to cut off aid [JURIST report] to Kenya's government until the crisis is resolved and democracy is restored. The opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement filed a formal complaint [JURIST report] on January 22 with the International Criminal Court, alleging that President Mwai Kibaki's administration has committed crimes against humanity while using force against demonstrators. The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights launched an official investigation [KNCHR brief; Standard report] into the alleged human rights violations on January 26. Kibaki and opposition candidate Raila Odinga last week reached a tentative deal to draft a new constitution [JURIST report] and the two sides have also agreed to conduct an independent review of election results [AP report].

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