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HRW appeals to Kenya to stop violations

14 May 2014, 09:11

Nairobi - The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has appealed to the government to end the violations against refugees and Kenyan citizens in its crackdown on terrorism.

It raised concerns at the harassment, detentions, relocations and deportations.

The rights body asked the government to give the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) full access to all detainees in order to identify registered refugees, asylum seekers, and anyone seeking protection, regardless of when they came to Kenya.

In a statement, HRW said that it had established that the round-up operation, which began in April, had been riddled with abuses.

“Government security forces have raided homes, buildings, and shops; looted cell phones, money, and other goods; harassed and extorted residents; and detained thousands – including journalists, Kenyan citizens, and international aid workers – without charge and in appalling conditions for periods well beyond the 24-hour limit set by Kenyan law,” the organization stated.

Daniel Bekele, Africa Director at HRW, implicated the uniformed forces.

“Kenyan police and security forces are using abusive and discriminatory tactics in the name of national security, targeting entire communities. This crackdown clearly violates basic rights of Kenyans, refugees, and other foreign nationals and does nothing to improve security.”

HRW said it had established through interviews that security forces had routinely confiscated or destroyed documentation and frequently extorted large sums of money in exchange for release.

The organisation said it interviewed 21 refugees who had been detained at various police stations in Nairobi, including Pangani, Shauri Moyo, Kamukunji, Kasarani and Gigiri stations.

The so-called Operation Usalama Watch began following grenade and gun attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi by unknown perpetrators late March.

In April, Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku announced that 6 000 police had been deployed to Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood to arrest foreign nationals who were in the country unlawfully and anyone suspected of terrorist links.

 – CAJ News

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