News / Africa

HRW: Kenyan Police, Soldiers Abusing Somalis

Kenyan police officers secure the site of a grenade attack in Nairobi on April 29, 2012 (file photo).
Kenyan police officers secure the site of a grenade attack in Nairobi on April 29, 2012 (file photo).

Human Rights Watch says the Kenyan police and army subjected hundreds of ethnic Somalis and Somali refugees to beatings and other abuses between November 2011 and February 2012.  The alleged abuses were in apparent response to attacks carried out by militants with suspected links to the Islamist Somali armed group, al-Shabab in the wake of Kenya's military intervention in Somalia.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi, Human Rights Watch East Africa Researcher Neela Ghoshal accused the Kenyan security forces of arbitrarily arresting and mistreating ethnic Somalis in Northeastern Kenya rather than conducting investigations to identify individuals targeting security forces and civilians.

"Our particular concern which we have documented in this report is the response to those attacks by the security forces," said Ghoshal.  "Rather than doing what they ought to do which is to investigate each of the attacks carry out careful policing and intelligence work and identify the perpetrators or the suspects and bring them to justice process involving the rule of law.  But what has happened instead is arbitrary round up of residence in Northeastern province."

The organization also documented cases rape and attempted sexual assaults, looting and destruction of property. According to Ghosal, there are were also cases of degrading and inhumane treatment.

"I myself was in Garissa in January to document the abuses that had taken places in November and December, but what I ended up seeing were abuses taking place in front of my eyes while driving past military camp," added Ghoshal.  "We saw people were being grabbed from the street outside brought to the military camp it's in an open field and you could see people being forced to roll on the mud, they were being forced to frog jump across the field and stand on one arm and one leg and this I saw with my own eyes."

Kenya has witnessed a series of grenade attacks since Kenya Defense Forces joined in the effort to battle the militant group al-Shabaab last October. Ghoshal said the attacks carried out by suspected al-Shabaab sympathizers against security forces and civilians were abhorrent, but police and military could never justify indiscriminate attacks and abuses against civilians.

Mohamed Nur Hussein, of the Wajir Paralegal Network, says security officials have been abusing his people since independence. He says the difference now is they are able to tell the world those abuses.

"Since 1963 when Kenya gained independence to date, we are in this kind of harassment, brutality, discrimination, segregation, even in terms of development and economic empowerment the only difference now we are able to speak," Hussein recalled.

In an interview with VOA, deputy police spokesman, Charles Owino said the criticism is constructive but he says but alleged victims should also bring their concerns to the police and not just to rights organizations.

"We take criticism quite positively. But this doesn't mean that we agree wholesomely to the criticism as they put," Owino said. "We have tendencies of communities having various culture where by an offense can be committed but the person fear to report this offenses to police because may be nature of their society."

Human Rights Watch says while little or no action has been taken to address the alleged abuses, but they have subsided because since February, there have been no attacks targeting security forces.

But the New York-based rights organization noted the alleged reprisals against ethnic Somalis have contributed to increased mistrust of the security forces at a time when Kenyan authorities need their cooperation for ensuring the security in that part of the country.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid