Kenya, a controversial country infested by political violence, tribalism, police brutality, alleged crimes against humanity, racism and hatred, is once again hit by another scandal.
Xenophobia in this Eastern African nation has reached alarming levels, as Kenyan cops are accused by Human Rights Watch (HRW) of raping, torturing and arbitrarily detaining thousands of Somali and Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers.
A newly-released 68-page report released this week by HRW documented how Kenyan cops used a government order to relocate urban refugees to refugee camps as an excuse to rape, beat, extort money from, and arbitrarily detain at least 1 000 people in the capital Nairobi.
“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,” Gerry Simpson, HRW senior refugee researcher, said in a statement posted on the New York-based organisation’s website.
Simpson is the author of the report called “‘You are All Terrorists:’ Kenyan Police Abuse of Refugees in Nairobi”.
The HRW report corroborates some telephonic interviews conducted by Moon of the South in the capital Nairobi, in which Somali citizens living in Kenya spoke of despicable tendencies of xenophobia displayed by Kenyan cops and some ordinary citizens who accuse them of being ‘terrorists’.
Kenya cops, known the world over for their corrupt and cruel practices, also cops demanded money from those ‘terrorists’ to free them.
Somali and Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers who lived for many years with their families in Eastleigh told HRW that the ‘massacre’ started on 19 November 2012 police, a day after unidentified people attacked a minibus, killing seven people and injuring 30.
Seven women told HRW investigators how police raped them in their homes on side streets and on wasteland, and in some cases with children close by.
One of the women who was raped said police also raped three other women in the same attack, according to the HRW report.
The report also said 40 refugees, including many women, described how police beat, kicked, and punched them and their children in their homes, in the street, and in police vehicles, causing serious injury and long-term pain.
“Randomly attacking men, women, and children in their homes and in the streets is hardly an effective way to protect Kenya’s national security,” Simpson said.
HRW urged the Kenya government to thoroughly investigate commanding officers responsible for police units whose officers committed torture, rape and other abuses against refugees.
It also said the government should drop unlawful plans to force refugees from cities into refugee camps.
Furthermore, HRW called on the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to document and speak out publicly on police torture and abuse of refugees.
Photo courtesy of Kenya Photos blog.