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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs