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Former Kenyan Police Chief Denied Entry Into US

  • Alan Boswell

Human-rights activists welcomed the news, alleging gross rights violations committed by the police force under Hussein Ali's command.

U.S. embassy officials say Kenya's former police chief has been denied a visa. Human-rights activists have welcomed the news, alleging gross rights violations committed by the police force under Hussein Ali's command.

On Tuesday the U.S. embassy confirmed that it had denied a request from Hussein Ali for a travel visa. The former police head and now-postmaster general had reportedly sought the visa to visit Los Angeles for official business.

In September, U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger announced that in an effort to speed up the nation's reform process 15 senior Kenyan officials were being threatened with travel bans. Weeks later the ambassador confirmed Attorney General Amos Wako had been barred from entering the United States, and that three others were expected to be banned.

The U.S. envoy refused to say whether Ali had been placed under a full travel ban, nor whether he was on the original targeted list of 15 individuals.

Outspoken Kenyan lawyer Paul Muite says that the former police chief's legacy is not highly regarded within the human rights community.

"Those of us who have been in the human rights fight welcome that [the visa denial] a lot," Muite said. "He certainly aggravated one particular issue regarding human rights - extra-judicial executions."

Kenya's police have come under sustained criticism the past few years. They are accused of being directly responsible for hundreds of deaths during the post-election violence that shook the nation in early 2008 following the disputed presidential poll between President Mwai Kibaki and now Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Human-rights groups have also reported that hundreds of youth were secretly killed during the government's crackdown on the Mungiki sect, originally an ethnic Kikuyu religious movement that became an outlawed gang.

Muite says these killings were not only gross violations of the law but also took the lives of many innocent youth.

"The majority of those extra-judicially executed were not even members of Mungiki," he added. "There appears to have been a 'scorched earth' policy of killing Kikuyu youth."

The police have always denied these charges.

Amid pressure to reform the police, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in September removed Ali from his post and made him postmaster general, replacing him with the head of the police force's paramilitary arm.

On Tuesday, Ambassador Ranneberger praised Kenya for its reform efforts and its progress towards arriving at a new constitution. But the U.S. envoy said that his nation was not pleased with a faltering will to fight government and judicial corruption and to provide justice for the victims of post-election violence.

Kenyan authorities have acknowledged the government's failure to create a local tribunal to try the orchestrators of the politically-instigated bloodshed. The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has announced his intent to investigate the violence and prosecute those most responsible.