News / Africa

Kenyan Police Accused of Torture, Arbitrary Arrests

Somali families move out of their homes after they were broken into during the second day of skirmishes in the Eastleigh neighborhood of Kenya's capital Nairobi, Nov. 19, 2012.
Somali families move out of their homes after they were broken into during the second day of skirmishes in the Eastleigh neighborhood of Kenya's capital Nairobi, Nov. 19, 2012.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Kenyan police officers have subjected more than 1,000 ethnic Somalis to torture, rape and arbitrary arrests.  The alleged abuses were in apparent response to grenade attacks in a predominantly Somali part of Nairobi, carried out by militants with suspected links to the Somali militant group al-Shabab. 

Human Rights Watch says Kenyan police carried out 70 days of what the group calls "terror" in Nairobi's Eastleigh neighborhood.

The alleged abuses took place between November and January, a little more than a year after Kenyan troops entered Somalia to battle al-Shabab.

Human Rights Watch says that in addition to the alleged abuses, Kenyan authorities forcibly relocated a number of Somali refugees to camps in northeastern Kenya.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi Tuesday, Human Rights Watch Senior Refugee Researcher Gerry Simpson accused the Kenyan police of calling their victims "terrorists" and extorting money from them.

"Every single person we interviewed told us police branded them terrorists and so it seems that at least one of the main reasons for these abuses is that the police took upon themselves to punish men, women and children for attacks by unknown people that had taken place in Kenya since October 2011,” he said.

Kenyan forces went into Somalia in October 2011 to secure the border following a series of attacks and kidnappings in Kenyan territory blamed on al-Shabab.  Al-Shabab vowed to attack inside Kenya in response to the Kenyan incursion. 

Kenyan police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said there will always be complaints against police and the way they execute their work. 

Mwinyi said some police officers may have overstepped regulations when dealing with security matters.

“We also acknowledge once in a while we might have some incidents of some officers getting excited or going out of their mandate,” he said.

The rights group interviewed 101 people.  Ninety-six were refugees with documentation and the rest were Kenyan citizens who were ethnic Somalis.

HRW's Gerry Simpson said that what strikes his organization was that no one stopped the attacks against the residents by police.

“So at the very best, senior police commanders simply allowed this to happen and turned a blind eye and at the very worst they actually encouraged their officers to commit these abuses,” he said.

Human Rights Watch has called on the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, to document and report any abuses against refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya.

The government of Kenya has repeatedly promised to investigate accusations leveled against its security forces.  But according to Human Rights Watch, so far no serious action has been taken by the government.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs