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Rights Groups Urge US to Pressure Kenya on Human Rights

FILE - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta delivers a speech at the Nyayo Nationa Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.

A group of human rights organizations has urged President Barack Obama to use his upcoming trip to Kenya to press the government to improve its human rights record.

Human Rights Watch released a letter Wednesday on behalf of 17 rights organizations. The letter said the organizations are concerned that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is undermining Kenya's constitution and its commitment to international human rights law under the pretext of "promoting national security and combatting terrorism."

The letter says President Obama has a unique opportunity to urge President Kenyatta to stick to the 2010 constitution, as the United States is one of Kenya's closest allies in the fight against terrorism.

“We urge you to raise these critical issues during your upcoming historic visit to Kenya,” the letter said.

Obama is scheduled to visit Kenya later this month, in his first visit as U.S. President to his father's homeland.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning to U.S. citizens traveling to Kenya, ahead of Obama's appearance at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit July 24 through 26 in Nairobi. The summit is expected to draw 1,500 attendees from around the world.