News / Africa

Kenya Security Sweep Criticized

An injured woman is stretchered from an ambulance into Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Sunday May 4, 2014. Two improvised explosive devices went off on buses along one of busiest highways in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi killing one person and wounding several others, police said Sunday, as the East African nation struggles to crackdown on a recent wave of terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)
An injured woman is stretchered from an ambulance into Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Sunday May 4, 2014. Two improvised explosive devices went off on buses along one of busiest highways in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi killing one person and wounding several others, police said Sunday, as the East African nation struggles to crackdown on a recent wave of terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A rights group says the ongoing security operation in Kenya is riddled with abuses, resulting in arbitrary detentions, harassment and forced relocations. The government crackdown began in early April following attacks by unknown gunmen in Mombasa and Nairobi.
 
Operation Usalama Watch was launched after gunmen killed 12 people in two attacks in March. Much of the security crackdown is centered on Nairobi’s Eastleigh and South C neighborhoods and the Likoni area of Mombasa.
 
Human Rights Watch researcher Laetitia Bader said that’s where you’ll find thousands of Somalis, ethnic Somali Kenyans, South Sudanese and Kenyan Muslims.
 
“We are concerned with how the operation is being carried out, both in terms of ongoing abusive, arbitrary arrests. So, in terms of the security forces going to peoples’ homes, raiding homes, houses, buildings,” she said.
 
The group is also critical of conditions at places where detainees are being held.
 
She said, “We’ve been visiting different police stations in Nairobi where detainees have been held in horrifying conditions: overcrowded, lack of sanitary facilities, lack of food and water, but also in terms of the legality of the detentions. Individuals have been held for much longer than what is stipulated under Kenyan law and it’s very unclear why they are being held.”
 
It’s also not clear how many people are being detained.
 
“Well, that’s a very good question,” she said, “The problem is at the moment no one and no protection actors actually have access to all the detention facilities where people are being held. So, we’ve heard from the Kenyan authorities numbers up to thousands of people being detained. But key actors haven’t been given access to the detention facilities to really clarify and corroborate this information.”
 
She said that journalists, Kenyan citizens and international aid workers have also been harassed. Human Rights Watch also accused security forces of taking cellphones, money and other items, including documentation.
 
“The authorities are claiming that what they are trying to do is identify undocumented individuals in this country. But the truth is that in the way the operation is being carried out they are often overlooking valid documentation. They’ve been destroying refugee cards, identification cards,” Bader said.
 
Kenya, she said, has the right to carry out security operations in the wake of attacks. However, she says authorities have not yet brought individuals to court for the attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi.
 
Human Rights Watch made a number of recommendations, including giving access to U.N. officials.
 
“At a minimum, the U.N. refugee organization, UNHCR, is given access to all detention facilities where individuals are being held to make sure that refugees are identified, but also individuals who haven’t had the option and the possibility to claim asylum in Kenya given that registration of asylum seekers has stopped over the last few years it’s absolutely critical that UNHCR has access to all detainees,” said Bader.
 
The group also called on Kenyan authorities to make sure its security operation meets human rights standards. 
 
Last month, authorities said Operation Usalama Watch had progressed well and was intensified…arresting criminals, suspected terrorists and illegal aliens.” More than 200 people have been scheduled to be deported or sent back to the Dadaab refugee camps in northeast Kenya. At the time, authorities said they were waiting to see official reports of police misconduct.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid