Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher Gerry Simpson during a news
conference in Nairobi May 29, 2013. Police tortured, raped and
arbitrarily detained about 1,000 refugees in the pretext of fighting
terrorism, according to a HRW report. PHOEBE OKALL
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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
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