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SearchKenya: Police Abuse Nairobi’s RefugeesHuman Rights WatchWednesday, May 29, 2013Torture, Rape, Extortion, and ArbitraryDetention Near the Heart of Kenya’s Capital.Kenyan police in Nairobi tortured, raped, andotherwise abused and arbitrarily detained atleast 1,000 refugees between mid-November2012 and late January 2013, Human RightsWatch said in a report released today.The Kenyan authorities should immediatelyopen an independent public investigation, andthe United Nations refugee agency – which hasnot spoken publicly about the abuses – shoulddocument and publicly report on any futureabuses against refugees, Human Rights Watchsaid.The 68-page report, “‘You are All Terrorists:’Kenyan Police Abuse of Refugees in Nairobi,”isbased on interviews with 101 refugees, asylumseekers, and Kenyans of Somali ethnicity. Thereport documents how police used grenade andother attacks by unknown people in Nairobi’smainly Somali suburb of Eastleigh and agovernment order to relocate urban refugees torefugee camps as an excuse to rape, beat,extort money from, and arbitrarily detain, at least1,000 people. The police described their victimsas “terrorists,” and demanded payments to freethem. Human Rights Watch also documented 50cases in which the abuses would amount totorture.“Refugees told us how hundreds of Kenyanpolice unleashed 10 weeks of hell oncommunities close to the heart of Nairobi,torturing, abusing, and stealing from some ofthe country’s poorest and most vulnerablepeople,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugeeresearcher for Human Rights Watch and authorof the report. “Randomly attacking men, women,and children in their homes and in the streets ishardly an effective way to protect Kenya’snational security.”In January, Kenya’s High Court ordered theauthorities to suspend the refugee relocationplan –under which 55,000 refugees and asylumseekers are supposed to leave Kenya’s citiesand move to squalid, overcrowded, and closedrefugee camps – until the court decideswhether it is lawful. The court is due to rule onthe matter within weeks of a May 22 hearing ofthe case.Somali and Ethiopian refugees and asylumseekers who had lived for many years with theirfamilies in Eastleigh told Human Rights Watchthat police rampaged through the suburbbeginning on November 19, 2012, a day afterunidentified people attacked a minibus, killing 7people and injuring 30. Interviewees saidofficers from four of Kenya’s police forces – theGeneral Services Unit (GSU), the Regular Police(RP), the Administration Police (AP), and theCriminal Investigations Department (CID) –abused them, with the GSU committing themajority of the documented abuses.Seven women described how police raped themin their homes, on side streets, and onwasteland, in some cases with children close by.One of the women who was raped said policealso raped three other women in the sameattack. Forty refugees, including many women,described how police beat, kicked, and punchedthem and their children in their homes, in thestreet, and in police vehicles, causing seriousinjury and long-term pain. Dozens of peoplespoke about how police entered businessesand homes, often in the middle of the night,stole large amounts of money and otherpersonal belongings, and extorted money to letthem go free.Somali women and children fleeing theirhomes in Nairobi’s predominantly Somalisuburb of Eastleigh on November 20, 2012,two days after an attack on a bus byunknown perpetrators caused Kenyangangs to riot and attack Somali refugeesand Somali Kenyans. The police ended theriots but then unleashed ten weeks oftorture and other abuses in Eastleighagainst at least one thousand refugees,asylum seekers and Somali Kenyans.© 2012 REUTERS/Noor KhamisHuman Rights Watch also documented almost1,000 cases in which police arbitrarily detainedrefugees and asylum seekers in their homes, inthe street, in police vehicles, and inpolicestations. The police held the detainees –sometimes for many days in inhuman anddegrading conditions – while threatening tocharge them, without any evidence, withterrorism or public order offenses. In one case,police charged almost 100 people withoutevidence only to have the courts throw thecase out months later for lack of evidence.Kenyan authorities have not responded toHuman Rights Watch’s request for comment onthe report’s findings and have not announcedany steps to investigate the abuses. Theinaction deepens Kenya’s long record ofimpunity for law enforcement officers, who formany years have abused Somali Kenyans andSomali refugees in the country’s North Easternregion, including in the sprawling Dadaabrefugee camp on the border with Somalia.Donor countries should not support any of thefour police forces implicated in the abuses,particularly the GSU, Human Rights Watch said.Article 1 of the United Nations Conventionagainst Torture, by which Kenya is bound,defines torture as “any act by which severepain or suffering, whether physical or mental, isintentionally inflicted on a person [to]… punishhim for an act he or a third person hascommitted or is suspected of having committed,or intimidating or coercing him… when suchpain or suffering is inflicted by… a publicofficial.”Police in Eastleigh who raped and seriouslyassaulted refugees and asylum seekers, whilecalling them terrorists or extorting money fromthem, intentionally inflicted severe physical andmental pain and suffering as punishment forattacks other people committed in Eastleigh andto coerce them into paying money, HumanRights Watch said. The United NationsConvention against Torture obliges the Kenyangovernment to carry out prompt and fairinvestigations into officers and commandingofficers responsible for torture, and toprosecute those found responsible.“International law requires Kenya to ensure thatofficers who tortured refugees – who rapedwomen and beat children and men intounconsciousness while branding them terrorists– are investigated and held to account,” saidSimpson.The role of the United Nations HighCommissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) toadvocate publicly for an end to such abuses isespecially important given the lack of action bythe government to hold anyone responsible forthe abuses, Human Rights Watch said. UNHCRhas failed to adequately document and speakout about the abuses, and should improve itsmonitoring of abuses against refugees andrecord and publicly condemn any furtherabuses.“There has been a deafening silence fromUNHCR on these abuses, even though theyhappened within a half-hour drive from theirNairobi offices,” Simpson said. “For 10 weeks,police were free to rape, assault, and steal fromover 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers withouta single public word from the one internationalagency legally mandated to protect refugees.”UNHCR’s role in documenting and respondingto police abuses is all the more important giventhe risk of further abuses during possible futureattempts to relocate urban refugees to camps,Human Rights Watch said.On December 13, Kenya’s Department ofRefugee Affairs announced that a spate ofgrenade and other attacks in Nairobi and otherparts of Kenya since October 2011 meant that all55,000 refugees and asylum seekers living inNairobi should move to the country’s closed,overcrowded refugee camps near the Somaliand Sudanese borders or face forced relocationthere, and that all registration of, and servicesfor, urban refugees would end immediately.Kenyan authorities should abandon theirrelocation plan, Human Rights Watch said. Thegovernment’s December 13 announcement failsto show, as required by international law, thatthe plan to force tens of thousands of refugeesliving in Kenya’s cities into closed camps isnecessary to achieve enhanced nationalsecurity and the least restrictive measurepossible to address Kenya’s genuine nationalsecurity concerns. Only one person – a Kenyannot of Somali ethnicity – has been prosecutedand convicted for one of at least 30 attacks inKenya since October 2011, when Kenyadeployed troops in Somalia.The relocation plan also unlawfully discriminatesbetween Kenyan citizens and refugees, becausethe policy allows Kenyans to move freely anddenies refugees that right. Further, transferringtens of thousands of refugees from the cities toclosed refugee camps that face a fundingshortfall of over US$100 million would violate arange of their other rights. Those rights includethe right to free movement, the right not to beforcibly evicted from their homes, and the rightnot to have reduced their access to basic rights– to food, livelihoods, health care, andeducation.The report also documents the on-goinghumanitarian and security crisis in Kenya’sSomali refugee camps, near the town of Dadaabin the country’s northeast, and the continuedinsecurity throughout most of Somalia. SeniorKenyan officials have repeatedly called onSomali refugees to return to their country, andhave said that relocating urban refugees to thecamps would be swiftly followed by repatriationto Somalia.Most of south-central Somalia remainsextremely insecure, with ongoing conflict,killings, indiscriminate violence against civilians,and limited access for humanitarian agencies.Human Rights Watch said Kenyan authoritiesshould not press refugees to return to Somalia.Such pressure would violate Kenya’s obligationsnot to forcibly return – or refoule – refugees tosituations of persecution or generalizedviolence. Donor countries should continue tofund groups working with Somali refugees inKenya and should urge the Kenyan authoritiesto stop pushing for premature refugee return toSomalia.

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Kenya: Police Abuse Nairobi’s Refugees
Human Rights Watch
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Torture, Rape, Extortion, and Arbitrary
Detention Near the Heart of Kenya’s Capital.
Kenyan police in Nairobi tortured, raped, and
otherwise abused and arbitrarily detained at
least 1,000 refugees between mid-November
2012 and late January 2013, Human Rights
Watch said in a report released today.
The 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, Human Rights Watch
said.
The 68-page report, “‘You are All Terrorists:’
Kenyan Police Abuse of Refugees in Nairobi,”is
based on interviews with 101 refugees, asylum
seekers, and Kenyans of Somali ethnicity. The
report documents how police used grenade and
other attacks by unknown people in Nairobi’s
mainly Somali suburb of Eastleigh and 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. The police described their victims
as “terrorists,” and demanded payments to free
them. Human Rights Watch also documented 50
cases in which the abuses would amount to
torture.
“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,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee
researcher for Human Rights Watch and author
of the report. “Randomly attacking men, women,
and children in their homes and in the streets is
hardly an effective way to protect Kenya’s
national security.”
In January, Kenya’s High Court ordered the
authorities to suspend the refugee relocation
plan –under which 55,000 refugees and asylum
seekers are supposed to leave Kenya’s cities
and move to squalid, overcrowded, and closed
refugee camps – until the court decides
whether it is lawful. The court is due to rule on
the matter within weeks of a May 22 hearing of
the case.
Somali and Ethiopian refugees and asylum
seekers who had lived for many years with their
families in Eastleigh told Human Rights Watch
that police rampaged through the suburb
beginning on November 19, 2012, a day after
unidentified people attacked a minibus, killing 7
people and injuring 30. Interviewees said
officers from four of Kenya’s police forces – the
General Services Unit (GSU), the Regular Police
(RP), the Administration Police (AP), and the
Criminal Investigations Department (CID) –
abused them, with the GSU committing the
majority of the documented abuses.
Seven women described how police raped them
in their homes, on side streets, and on
wasteland, 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. Forty 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. Dozens of people
spoke about how police entered businesses
and homes, often in the middle of the night,
stole large amounts of money and other
personal belongings, and extorted money to let
them go free.
Somali women and children fleeing their
homes in Nairobi’s predominantly Somali
suburb of Eastleigh on November 20, 2012,
two days after an attack on a bus by
unknown perpetrators caused Kenyan
gangs to riot and attack Somali refugees
and Somali Kenyans. The police ended the
riots but then unleashed ten weeks of
torture and other abuses in Eastleigh
against at least one thousand refugees,
asylum seekers and Somali Kenyans.
© 2012 REUTERS/Noor Khamis
Human Rights Watch also documented almost
1,000 cases in which police arbitrarily detained
refugees and asylum seekers in their homes, in
the street, in police vehicles, and inpolice
stations. The police held the detainees –
sometimes for many days in inhuman and
degrading conditions – while threatening to
charge them, without any evidence, with
terrorism or public order offenses. In one case,
police charged almost 100 people without
evidence only to have the courts throw the
case out months later for lack of evidence.
Kenyan authorities have not responded to
Human Rights Watch’s request for comment on
the report’s findings and have not announced
any steps to investigate the abuses. The
inaction deepens Kenya’s long record of
impunity for law enforcement officers, who for
many years have abused Somali Kenyans and
Somali refugees in the country’s North Eastern
region, including in the sprawling Dadaab
refugee camp on the border with Somalia.
Donor countries should not support any of the
four police forces implicated in the abuses,
particularly the GSU, Human Rights Watch said.
Article 1 of the United Nations Convention
against Torture, by which Kenya is bound,
defines torture as “any act by which severe
pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is
intentionally inflicted on a person [to]… punish
him for an act he or a third person has
committed or is suspected of having committed,
or intimidating or coercing him… when such
pain or suffering is inflicted by… a public
official.”
Police in Eastleigh who raped and seriously
assaulted refugees and asylum seekers, while
calling them terrorists or extorting money from
them, intentionally inflicted severe physical and
mental pain and suffering as punishment for
attacks other people committed in Eastleigh and
to coerce them into paying money, Human
Rights Watch said. The United Nations
Convention against Torture obliges the Kenyan
government to carry out prompt and fair
investigations into officers and commanding
officers responsible for torture, and to
prosecute those found responsible.
“International law requires Kenya to ensure that
officers who tortured refugees – who raped
women and beat children and men into
unconsciousness while branding them terrorists
– are investigated and held to account,” said
Simpson.
The role of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to
advocate publicly for an end to such abuses is
especially important given the lack of action by
the government to hold anyone responsible for
the abuses, Human Rights Watch said. UNHCR
has failed to adequately document and speak
out about the abuses, and should improve its
monitoring of abuses against refugees and
record and publicly condemn any further
abuses.
“There has been a deafening silence from
UNHCR on these abuses, even though they
happened within a half-hour drive from their
Nairobi offices,” Simpson said. “For 10 weeks,
police were free to rape, assault, and steal from
over 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers without
a single public word from the one international
agency legally mandated to protect refugees.”
UNHCR’s role in documenting and responding
to police abuses is all the more important given
the risk of further abuses during possible future
attempts to relocate urban refugees to camps,
Human Rights Watch said.
On December 13, Kenya’s Department of
Refugee Affairs announced that a spate of
grenade and other attacks in Nairobi and other
parts of Kenya since October 2011 meant that all
55,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in
Nairobi should move to the country’s closed,
overcrowded refugee camps near the Somali
and Sudanese borders or face forced relocation
there, and that all registration of, and services
for, urban refugees would end immediately.
Kenyan authorities should abandon their
relocation plan, Human Rights Watch said. The
government’s December 13 announcement fails
to show, as required by international law, that
the plan to force tens of thousands of refugees
living in Kenya’s cities into closed camps is
necessary to achieve enhanced national
security and the least restrictive measure
possible to address Kenya’s genuine national
security concerns. Only one person – a Kenyan
not of Somali ethnicity – has been prosecuted
and convicted for one of at least 30 attacks in
Kenya since October 2011, when Kenya
deployed troops in Somalia.
The relocation plan also unlawfully discriminates
between Kenyan citizens and refugees, because
the policy allows Kenyans to move freely and
denies refugees that right. Further, transferring
tens of thousands of refugees from the cities to
closed refugee camps that face a funding
shortfall of over US$100 million would violate a
range of their other rights. Those rights include
the right to free movement, the right not to be
forcibly evicted from their homes, and the right
not to have reduced their access to basic rights
– to food, livelihoods, health care, and
education.
The report also documents the on-going
humanitarian and security crisis in Kenya’s
Somali refugee camps, near the town of Dadaab
in the country’s northeast, and the continued
insecurity throughout most of Somalia. Senior
Kenyan officials have repeatedly called on
Somali refugees to return to their country, and
have said that relocating urban refugees to the
camps would be swiftly followed by repatriation
to Somalia.
Most of south-central Somalia remains
extremely insecure, with ongoing conflict,
killings, indiscriminate violence against civilians,
and limited access for humanitarian agencies.
Human Rights Watch said Kenyan authorities
should not press refugees to return to Somalia.
Such pressure would violate Kenya’s obligations
not to forcibly return – or refoule – refugees to
situations of persecution or generalized
violence. Donor countries should continue to
fund groups working with Somali refugees in
Kenya and should urge the Kenyan authorities
to stop pushing for premature refugee return to
Somalia.

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