Human Rights Watch (HRW) is demanding that the Kenyan government investigates issues of brutality by the security forces in the capital Nairobi and three northeastern counties. Beyond investigations, HRW is tasking the government to ensure justice is meted out to victims.
According to HRW, in the past two years, 34 people have disappeared in counter terrorism operations in which the military was actively involved in raiding homes and compounds to arrest people alleged to be linked with insurgent group Al Shabab.
“People in northeastern Kenya deserve protection from Al-Shabab attacks, not further abuse from the authorities,” said Ken Roth, Executive Director at Human Rights Watch.
The call to action was contained in its latest report titled, ‘‘Deaths and Disappearances: Abuses in Counterterrorism Operations in Nairobi and in Northeastern Kenya.’‘
The 87-page report released on Tuesday July 19, is the result of over eight months of investigations by the group during which they interviewed 117 people in Nairobi and three northeastern counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.
“Rounding people up and refusing to disclose their whereabouts is a serious crime and only compounds fears and mistrust in the security forces,” HRW’s Executive Director added.
The report noted that HRW spoke among others to victims and witnesses of counter terrorism operations, Imams, government officials, journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, police and military officers, and local community leaders. They also conducted follow-up interviews in Nairobi and by phone with victims and witnesses in the northeast.
‘‘As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, police have not meaningfully investigated these deaths. In one instance, a body was exhumed in Mandera in response to public demands, but the government has not conducted an inquest or any meaningful investigations as required by Kenyan law,’‘ they noted in a summary of the report.
Who are Human Rights Watch?
Human Rights Watch as the name implies is a global human rights institution. They investigate issues of rights abuses by governments and institutions and expose the facts widely in the media.
HRW also puts pressure on those with power to respect rights and secure justice. It is an independent outfit that works as part of a vibrant movement to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all.
The group currently has staff in more than 40 countries, with offices in Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Goma, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Nairobi, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Tunis, Washington DC, and Zurich.