Kenya Forces Disappeared 34 in Anti-Terror Raids, Group Says
20 July 2016, 14:41
Nairobi - Kenyan security forces have forcibly disappeared at least 34 people during counter-terrorism operations in the country’s capital and northeast over the past two years, Human Rights Watch said.
The multi-agency raids arrested people allegedly suspected of links to al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based militant organization, the New York-based group said Wednesday in a report. Months later, those seized haven’t been charged with any crimes, nor located, with their families receiving little assistance from authorities, it said.
The bodies of at least 11 other people arrested by state agents were later found, in some cases far from where they were seized, according to the advocacy group. Mwenda Njoka, a spokesman for Kenya’s Interior Ministry, said the government had just heard of the report and would respond later.
“People in northeastern Kenya deserve protection from al-Shabaab attacks, not further abuse from the authorities,” said Ken Roth, Human Rights Watch’s executive director. “Rounding people up and refusing to disclose their whereabouts is a serious crime and only compounds fears and mistrust in the security forces.”
Anti-militant operations began in northeastern counties such as Mandera shortly after al-Shabaab’s September 2013 attack on Westgate mall in the capital, Nairobi, in which at least 67 people died. The moves intensified after the al-Qaeda-linked group raided a college in Garissa county last year, killing at least 147 people, Human Rights Watch said.