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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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