News / Africa

    Kenyan Security Forces Accused of Abuses Against Somalis

    A Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldier carrying a machine gun patrols the Indian Ocean coast-line in Burgabo, south of Kismayu in Somalia, (File).
    A Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldier carrying a machine gun patrols the Indian Ocean coast-line in Burgabo, south of Kismayu in Somalia, (File).

    Human Rights Watch released a statement Thursday accusing Kenyan security forces of abusing Kenyan Somalis and Somali refugees in northeastern Kenya, particularly in the provincial capital and around the Dadaab refugee camp.  A military official, in turn, says that the army has nothing against Somalis and Kenyan-Somalis. 

    Human Rights Watch East Africa researcher Neela Ghoshal tells VOA she personally witnessed a group of civilians being abused at a Kenyan military camp in the provincial capital of Garissa on Wednesday.

    “They were forced to roll around in the mud and to do various gymnastic positions that seemed like they were designed to humiliate them." Ghoshal stated. "I was able to speak to a few of the victims after they were released and it seemed they had just been picked up because they were hanging around near the military camp but not in prohibited areas.  They were accused of being al-Shabab, and taken to the camp, and mistreated.”

    Ghoshal says this is the latest incident in a pattern of abuse committed against Kenyan Somalis and Somalis by Kenyan police and military in various areas of North Eastern province.  Alleged abuses include arbitrary arrests, beatings, rape, and lootings.

    Thursday’s statement says the abuses began at around the time the Kenya Defense Forces entered southern Somalia in October with the aim of eliminating the militant Islamist group al-Shabab.

    The human rights watchdog cites several serious incidents since then, including a November 24 crackdown in Mandera in which police and soldiers allegedly rounded up hundreds of people suspected of involvement in two grenade attacks and an assault on a military convoy.  It alleges that many of the suspects’ limbs were broken during beatings.

    The group says in another incident, in the Dadaab refugee camp, Kenyan police allegedly raped at least seven women and beat scores of camp residents following explosions targeting police vehicles.

    Ghoshal says she thinks many police and soldiers have a deep bias against ethnic Somalis.

    “Essentially, the police and the military both seem to be taking out frustrations in response to attacks against the security forces, not by thoroughly investigating and apprehending the perpetrators who are actually responsible, but by rounding up people in the area and arbitrarily mistreating them,” she said.

    The statement says that the military spokesman, Major Emmanuel Chirchir, told Human Rights Watch that the group of civilians the organization witnessed was being questioned because they allegedly tried to build an illegal structure outside the military camp.  He told Human Rights Watch that he was unaware of any abuses but would investigate the allegations.

    Attempts by VOA to reach Chirchir, as well as Kenyan police spokesman Eric Kiraithe, by telephone, were unsuccessful.

    Kenya Defense Forces operations information officer, Colonel Cyrus Oguna, tells VOA he would not comment on the allegations made against Kenyan forces inside the country.

    He says it is not true that Kenyan forces are biased against ethnic Somalis, saying that many military personnel are themselves ethnic Somalis. “The Somalis who are Kenyans are Kenyan Somalis by right.  They are protected by the constitution of this country, and there is no way Kenya Defense Forces can turn against its own people,” Oguna said.

    Oguna says Kenyan troops provide humanitarian assistance to Somalis in Somalia, and work closely with Somali informants, so there is a good relationship between the two.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.