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British Human Rights Lawyer Deported from Kenya

  • Michael Onyiego

A British Lawyer has been deported from Kenya while investigating human rights abuses in the region.

Late Thursday, the Chairman of the government-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Hassan Omar Hassan revealed that British lawyer and human rights activist Clara Gutteridge was deported from Kenya on the orders of the government.

Gutteridge is a fellow of the Open Society Justice Initiative and was in Kenya on the invitation of the KNCHR to conduct research on national security and human rights abuses in east Africa. She had been in the region for a month documenting cases of rendition, torture, secret detentions and abuses of due process.

Shortly after returning to London, Gutteridge recounted her experience. "I had left Nairobi to go to Tanzania. On my way back in I went to the immigration and the man said ‘can you just come into the office for a minute.’ I went into the office and gave them my passport. After about five minutes a group of them just came out and said ‘you’re under arrest, come with us,’" she said.

The immigration officials took all of her belongings and allowed her to make one phone call. She was detained overnight and was put on a flight the next day. Gutteridge says she was not given a chance to contest the order.

"The immigration officers gave me absolutely no reason at all for what was going on. They wouldn’t answer any of my questions at all. When I left I was finally served with a deportation order which said that my presence was not conducive to national interests," she said.

Kenya has come under scrutiny for the methods it has employed to combat the rising threat of terrorism in the region. The United States has provided Kenya with millions of dollars worth of anti-terrorism support and training over the past decade and Kenya has, in turn, adopted some of the United States’ more controversial tactics.

One Kenyan citizen, Mohamed Abdulmalik, has been detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since 2007 for his suspected role in a 2002 bombing on the Kenyan Coast.

More recently, Kenya has come under fire for employing extraordinary rendition to illegally transfer a number of its citizens to Uganda in connection with the Kampala bombings in July of last year.

A Kenyan activist who tried to visit the suspects in Uganda was also accused of terrorism and has been imprisoned since September.

Gutteridge says her early research indicates that Kenya has been engaged in these practices for at least the past decade.

"My concern is that the agencies conducting these investigations don’t have even a basic understanding of the rules of evidence. So they are not conducting the investigations in a way which could really end in a legitimate process," she said.

The Kenyan gvernment spokesman could not be reached for further comment.