RIGHTS GROUP DEMANDS U.S. END SUPPORT FOR KENYA'S ANTI-TERROR GROUP
Aug. 18 (GIN) – A U.S. and U.K.-funded anti-terrorism unit has carried out a series of killings and "enforced disappearances" during its fight against militant Islamists in Kenya, says the NY-based Human Rights Watch.
HRW said it also found evidence of arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of terrorism suspects in detention.
“Kenyan counterterrorism forces appear to be killing and disappearing people right under the noses of top government officials, major embassies, and the United Nations,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “This horrendous conduct does not protect Kenyans from terrorism – it simply undermines the rule of law.”
"Donors need to carry out their own investigations of these abuses and suspend their assistance to abusive forces, or risk being complicit in Kenya's culture of impunity," HRW added.
Kenya and Somalia have been at odds since the colonial British empire gave part of the Somali nation – the North Eastern Province - to Kenya for “administration.” Since then, Kenyan militia have enforced this oversight with punishing strikes against “Kenyan Somalis” and Somali refugees. Kenya’s massacre of Somalis in Garissa in 1980 was followed by a massacre in Wagalla in 1984 – called the worst human rights violation in Kenya’s history.
Most recently, Kenya joined with the besieged U.S.-supported Somali government to fight the Al-Shabab militants who control a large portion of Somalia. Kenya’s incursions into neighboring Somalia are blamed for more attacks within Kenya and the creation of an Anti-Terrorist Police Unit in Kenya in 2003. A government order to deport resident Somalis this spring has also been condemned by the rights watch group. Some 400 Somalis have been deported without warning to the U.N. or hearings on asylum claims.
Abuses by the Anti-Terrorist Police Unit were cited one year ago in a harsh report by the Kenya-based Muslims for Human Rights. Titled “We Are Tired of Taking You To Court,” the report documents six years of abuses in Kenya's port city of Mombasa, which has become a recruiting ground for al-Shabab.
Since 2003, Kenya has received nearly $50 million from the US State Department's anti-terrorism assistance fund. It has also received unspecified training, equipment and funds from the UK.