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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More