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Rights Groups Complain of NGO Harassment in Kenya

FILE - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, addresses a news conference at the State House in Nairobi, Dec. 2, 2014.

A group of human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Kenya's National Civil Society Congress, has complained to the Kenyan government about the "harassment and intimidation" of two nongovernmental organizations.

In a statement released Thursday, the groups criticized Nairobi for freezing the bank accounts of the groups Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights, also known as MUHURI. The statement said Kenya has placed the two groups on an official list of alleged supporters of terrorism.

It also said Kenya's national regulatory authority for nongovernmental groups canceled the registration of the two organizations on May 28, claiming they underreported their income.

But the human rights groups dispute that, saying Haki Africa and MUHURI were operating openly as part of other organizations, and have consistently filed tax returns with the board and posted the returns online.

The statement said the two Mombasa-based groups have been "consistently documenting human rights abuses" in Kenya's coastal region and have also raised allegations that security agencies have engaged in extrajudicial killings of Muslim clerics and alleged terrorism suspects.

"Rather than investing time and resources in targeting the two NGOs, Kenyan authorities should focus on addressing the concerns they have been raising," said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's regional director for east Africa.

Kenya's NGO Corruption Board has not made a public response

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