Anti-terrorism unit on the spot over killings

What you need to know:

  • HRW said it documented at least 10 cases of killings, 10 of enforced disappearances and 11 of harassment of terrorism suspects.
  • Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo declined to comment on the report, saying he had not read it.

A human rights group has accused Kenya’s anti-terrorism unit of extrajudicial killings and abductions.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday said it had found evidence that the police unit had also made arbitrary arrests and was mistreating terrorism suspects in detention.

The lobby asked donors to suspend support to the unit and other security agencies that violate human rights.

“Kenyan authorities should urgently investigate alleged killings, disappearances and other abuses by the unit, and hold those responsible to account,” says the group in a statement.

Human Rights Watch Deputy Director for Africa, Ms Leslie Lefkow, said the violation of human rights occurs with the knowledge of the government.

“Kenyan counter-terrorism forces appear to be killing people and making others disappear right under the noses of top government officials, major embassies, and the United Nations. This conduct does not protect Kenyans from terrorism; it simply undermines the rule of law,” said Ms Lefkow.

WENT UNANSWERED

Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo declined to comment on the report, saying he had not read it.

“I will only comment on the allegations after I have seen the report and analysed it,” said Mr Kimaiyo.

Efforts to get a comment from the head of the anti-terrorism police unit, Mr Boniface Mwaniki, were in vain as his phone went unanswered.

HRW said it documented at least 10 cases of killings, 10 of enforced disappearances and 11 of harassment of terrorism suspects in research it conducted in Kenya between November 2013 and June 2014. It attributed the abuse cases to the counter-terrorism unit.

The human rights organisation says in Majengo, 22 interviews with victims’ family members, witnesses, journalists, lawyers, imams, and police officers established that suspects were shot dead in public places.

The interviews are also said to have established that other people were abducted from vehicles and courtrooms, beaten during arrest, detained in isolated blocks, and denied contact with their relatives or access to lawyers.

“In some cases, members of the anti-riot forces, the General Service Unit, military intelligence and National Intelligence Service were also responsible for violations and torture,” says the report.

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