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HRW: Kenya Disappearances Linked to Counterterrorism Operations

Kenya Map
Kenya Map

Dozens of people have disappeared in the past two years at the hands of counterterrorism forces in Kenya, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Wednesday.

According to the report, military forces have arrested at least 34 people for alleged ties to the Islamist terror group al-Shabab, but none of them have been charged.

Family members say they cannot locate the relatives who were arrested, and have not been informed of their whereabouts, despite reporting the disappearances to authorities.

In the same time period, eleven bodies of people previously arrested by state agents have been found, raising concern for those who remain missing without explanation, according to the human rights watchdog.

“There is no doubt that Kenya faces serious security challenges, but the authorities have an obligation to respond effectively and respect due process in any law enforcement operation,” said Ken Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. “The disappearances and uninvestigated deaths in the northeast are illegal and risk alienating local communities, whose cooperation is needed.”

Counterterrorism operations in Kenya intensified after the April 2015 attacks on Garissa University college, which left 147 people, mostly students, dead.