Police tortured, raped and arbitrarily detained about 1,000 refugees in the pretext of fighting terrorism, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
The Human Rights Watch said police from four units unleashed a wave of abuses against Somali and Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers and Somali Kenyans in Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb between mid-November 2012 and late January.
Witnesses and victims of abuse told HRW that police from the General Service Unit, Regular Police, Administration Police, and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) committed the abuses, which included beatings, theft, extortion, and arbitrary arrest and detention in inhuman and degrading conditions.
The report, based on 101 interviews, said many women and children were among the victims.
HRW Senior Researcher Gerry Simpson said Kenyan authorities should immediately open an independent public investigation, and the United Nations refugee agency – which has not spoken publicly about the abuses – should document and publicly report on any future abuses against refugees.
“Refugees told us how hundreds of Kenyan police unleashed 10 weeks of hell on communities close to the heart of Nairobi, torturing, abusing, and stealing from some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” he said while releasing the report in Nairobi Wednesday.
Mr Simpson said the refugees, 96 of who are registered as refugees allowed in the country, relayed how police raided their homes late at night.
“They would drag men, women and children out of their beds. They stole their belongings and extorted large sums of money from them,” he said.
According to the human rights agency, the refugees and Kenyans of Somali origin faced these abuses from security agents who accused them of being terrorists.
The report indicates that one motivation for the abuses appeared to be retaliation for some 30 attacks on law enforcement officials and civilians by unknown perpetrators in Kenya since October 2011.
Mr Simpson said: “To date only one person—a Kenyan national not of Somali ethnicity—has been convicted for one of the attacks.”
The organisation now want the Deputy Inspectors General of the Regular Police and Administration Police to instruct the police to stop rape, beatings, and other unlawful violence against refugees, asylum seekers, and Somali Kenyans, some of which Mr Simpson said amount to acts of torture.
It also said the police should cease arbitrarily detaining refugees, asylum seekers, and Somali Kenyans, while stating that Pangani Police Station was the most notorious.
HRW also recommended to the National Police Service Commission and the Independent Police Oversight Authority investigate commanding officers —including the police inspector general and his two deputies—responsible for police units active in Eastleigh between mid-November 2012 and late January 2013.
“They should create a special committee of inquiry to report back to the NSPC on the extent and nature of police abuses, including torture against refugees and asylum seekers in Eastleigh between November 2012 and January 2013 with recommendations for which commanding officers should be held responsible for the abuses,” the report read in part.
Further, HRW wants the committee formed in 2010 to investigate law enforcement abuses against Somali Kenyans and Somali refugees in North Eastern region to publish its findings.
Xafiiska Wararka Midnimo, firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com