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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid