Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Kenyan authorities ignored “credible reports” about a doomsday cult in which more than 400 members were found buried in shallow graves, a state-funded human rights watchdog has said.

The bodies of 429 people, including children, were discovered in Shakahola, a forest near the town of Malindi, last year.

Survivors and victims’ families said that cult leader Paul Mackenzie had urged his followers to fast in order to “go see Jesus”.

In its report, The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) criticised security officers in Malindi for “gross abdication of duty and negligence” prior to the deaths.

“They not only failed to be proactive in collecting and acting on intelligence to forestall the Shakahola massacre but also unjustifiably failed to act on credible and actionable reports,” KNCHR chairwoman Roseline Odede said.

The report said that in 2019, justice officials discussed radicalisation involving Mr Mackenzie but ultimately took no action.

The rights group added that a former cult member was accused of making baseless accusations when he tried to raise the alarm.

Mr Mackenzie has denied responsibility for the deaths. He and several of his followers are currently on trial for several charges, including terrorism, murder and torture.

On Wednesday, the Kenyan government said it would release some of the bodies belonging to victims to their families next week.

By Joy

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