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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More