By David Malingha Doya
Monday, August 18, 2014
Police officers with police dogs face demonstrators in Nairobi's Eastleigh neighbourhood [Carl de Souza/AFP]
Human Rights Watch said Kenya’s counter-terrorism unit probably carried out extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances and called on the government to explain the deaths of three Muslim clerics.
There’s “strong evidence” the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, or ATPU, is responsible for abuses, the New York-based group said today in a statement. Human Rights Watch documented 10 killings and the same number of disappearances from November to June and 11 cases of mistreatment or harassment of “terrorism” suspects since 2011. Two calls to the mobile phone of Kenyan police spokeswoman Zipporah Mboroki seeking comment didn’t connect.
The report is based on 22 interviews with victims and their family members, witnesses and journalists, among others, in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Human Rights Watch said.
The U.S. provided $19 million to ATPU in 2012, the group said, citing a 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service. Foreign donors should reconsider funding the security agency until allegations its personnel committed abuses have been investigated, said the rights group.
“Kenyan counter-terrorism forces appear to be killing and disappearing people right under the noses of top government officials, major embassies and the United Nations,” Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “This horrendous conduct does not protect Kenyans from terrorism, it simply undermines the rule of law.”
Kenya has not “effectively investigated” the murders of Sheikh Aboud Rogo in August 2012, Sheikh Ibrahim Omar in October and Sheikh Abubakar Shariff, more commonly known as Makaburi, in April, the group said.
Kenyan authorities this year arrested more than 3,000 people, mostly of Somali origin, to see if they are in the country legally and to curb attacks after a series of deadly gun and grenade assaults in Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa. In September, al-Qaeda-linked militants raided a shopping mall in Nairobi, leaving at least 67 people dead.