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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid