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Amnesty raises concern over Operation Usalama Watch

28 May 2014, 10:14

Nairobi - Amnesty International has faulted the government over the ongoing security operation saying it was being used as a pretext for the blanket punishment of the Somali community in Kenya.

Michelle Kagari, the Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Africa at Amnesty International, blamed the government for allegedly “scapegoating” the Somalis in its fight against terror.

“It appears that "Operation Usalama Watch" is being used as a pretext for the blanket punishment of the Somali community in Kenya. They have become scapegoats with thousands arrested and ill-treated, forcibly relocated and hundreds unlawfully expelled to a war-torn country,” Kagari said.

An Amnesty International statement said that Kenya’s Somali community was being “scapegoated” in a counter-terror operation which had seen thousands subjected to arbitrary arrest, harassment, extortion, ill-treatment, forcible relocation and expulsion.

“While Kenya has legitimate national security concerns, the wholesale targeting of an already marginalized and vulnerable community is an appalling breach of national and international law. We call on the Kenyan government to immediately end human rights violations against Somalis, including refugees, ensure their protection, and provide redress where violations have occurred,” said Kagari.

The Kenyan authorities began mass round-ups of Somalis following two attacks in March which killed and injured scores of people.

Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Joseph Ole Lenku, was quoted as stating that more than 4 000 people were arrested in the first week of the operation alone.

Amnesty International said it is not aware of any Somali arrested during the operation who had been charged with terrorism-related offences.

 – CAJ News

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