The victims of the Mt. Elgon conflict have waited too long for justice. Prompt, independent investigations into human rights violations in Mt. Elgon—particularly in the cases of enforced disappearances as an ongoing human rights violation—are imperative. In the interim, magistrates should immediately initiate inquests into all cases of persons who are missing and presumed to be dead. They should issue death certificates and order compensation in order to allow affected families to rebuild their lives. The government should also carry out exhumations in all areas of Mt. Elgon where bodies are reported to be buried in clandestine graves. In order to ensure that victims and witnesses can testify without threats to their security, the Witness Protection Agency must be urgently funded and made operational.
In the cases of post-election violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008, only the establishment of the Waki Commission—and the subsequent intervention of the International Criminal Court—provided victims and their families a glimmer of hope that they might one day see justice. A similar commission of inquiry is required to address the atrocities of Mt. Elgon. The ICC prosecutor should determine whether crimes falling within the court’s jurisdiction were also committed in Mt. Elgon, and if so, open additional investigations in the Kenya situation to bring to account those most responsible for the crimes by the state and the SLDF.
The lack of government action has compelled victims and human rights organizations to turn to international bodies to seek justice, including the East African Court of Justice, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance. These bodies should play a role in casting light on the atrocities committed in Mt. Elgon. But it is imperative that the Kenyan government fulfills its obligation to protect the rights of all its citizens, including the victims of the Mt. Elgon conflict, who have waited for over three years to have access to justice.