News / Africa

Kenyan Police Accused of Seeking Bribes During Immigration Crackdown

Detained Somali women are fingerprinted and screened at the Kasarani sports stadium, which has been converted into a detention facility to hold those arrested during recent security crackdowns, near Nairobi, April 9, 2014.
Detained Somali women are fingerprinted and screened at the Kasarani sports stadium, which has been converted into a detention facility to hold those arrested during recent security crackdowns, near Nairobi, April 9, 2014.
Gabe Joselow
— Somalis in Kenya say police are systematically soliciting bribes during an ongoing crackdown on suspected illegal immigrants. Police have denied the allegations.

Police searched the home of 20-year-old, Kenya-born Farhia who lives in a small apartment in Nairobi's predominantly Somali Eastleigh neighborhood.  VOA visited her just minutes after the search.

“They came to my house just now,” she told VOA. “I showed them my student ID then my birth certificate.  They were not interested in either of that.  They told me to give them money and they will release me.”

Farhia says she gave them 5,000 shillings, or about $60.

For residents of Eastleigh, these shakedowns have become a common occurrence, with police visiting the same home up to six times a day, sometimes knocking in the middle of the night.  Somalis say the police call them ATMs -- human cash machines.

Others say police have taken jewelry, smart phones and other valuables.

The door-to-door searches are part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants following recent attacks and threats on the country claimed by Somali militants.

Police say hundreds of people have been arrested and at least 82 have been deported to Somalia since operations began last week.

Mohamed Hussein Maalim lives in the same building as Farhia.  He says would not have an issue with the operation, if it was carried out responsibly.

“With those persons who have no ID, who have no identification cards, who are illegal in this country, return them back to their country," said Maalim. "We won't have any problem and we are happy with that.”

Masoud Mwimyi, spokesperson for Kenya's National Police Service, says he is aware of the accusations of police bribery but adds he has not received any formal reports.

“We are hearing people make allegations through various avenues in the media, and we have told them if it is indeed true that there are any police officers engaged in any professional malpractices, they should formally report to us, so that we can investigate," said Mwimyi.

The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the deadly terrorist siege at Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall last year, has vowed retaliation for Kenya's military presence in Somalia.

A shooting at a church last month and the unexplained killing of a radical Muslim cleric have also raised tensions in the country.

Maalim, who studies at a technical college in Nairobi, says there is a growing mistrust of Somalis in Kenya.

“One problem, people lost faith in me, all my friends, no one trusts me, all my classmates who studied together don't trust me," said Maalim. "Tomorrow I want to vie for the chairmanship in the student council in the campus.  I can't vie because I'm a 'terrorist' -- I'm branded with that name.”

Police say operations will continue across the country to find illegal immigrants living in smaller towns and cities, and to seek out those who may have escaped Nairobi during the first sweep.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid