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Disband ruthless police unit, Siaya locals tell IG Joseph Boinnet

Inspector Bernard Ongoro, the Team Leader of the Usenge based police crack unit who arrested and tortured Standard Journalist Gwengi and Human Rights activist, Rogers Ochieng’ Photo/ Courtesy

The arrest and torture of Standard’s Isaiah Gwengi has exposed widespread human rights abuses by a police unit in Usenge, Siaya County.

Equal rights activists say they have evidence of abuses by the Quick Response Unit and the torture of Gwengi and equal rights crusader Rogers Ochieng was just a tip of the iceberg.

A Kenya National Commission on Human Rights official Beryl Orao, rights activists Audi Ogada and Chris Owala said many people who were previously too afraid to speak about their ordeal at the hands of the police officers have found the courage to share their stories.

Ogada said they had identified some of the seven officers who tortured the journalist and his colleagues as Sergeant Jarison Laumbauti, Constable Dan Kimari and Corporal Felix Maubi.

Ogada said the two were booked in OB 15/22/2017 and were accused of incitement to violence, resisting arrest and assault.

“We have been reliably told that the officers have previously assaulted an assistant chief of the area who had recorded a statement with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. We have obtained records of other torture victims such as Samson Otieno Olali who reported under OB 10/24/2017 and Omar Issa OB no 11/24/2017,” Ogada said.

 “We visited Usenge town on Friday and spoke to the victims of this dreaded police squad. We have confirmed residents have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten and fake charges leveled against them,” Ogada said.

“We went to the offices of the regular police and visited the Got Agulu Health Centre where Gwengi and Ochieng were treated. But their medical records are missing.”

The officials called on the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to either completely disband the unit or transfer all the officers at the camp.

The equal rights team claimed an officer at the unit’s camp threatened to shoot when they insisted on speaking to the unit’s commander Inspector Bernard Ongoro.

“It was bad. This officer told us Inspector Ongoro was away in Siaya. When we requested to see his Deputy, he ordered us to leave,” Owala said.

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