From Human Rights Watch:
Kenya: Security Forces Abusing Civilians Near Somalia Border – ‘There Are No Human Rights Here,’ Military Officer States
12 January 2012
Garissa — The Kenyan security forces are beating and arbitrarily detaining citizens and Somali refugees in Kenya’s North Eastern province, which borders on Somalia, despite repeated pledges to stop such abuses, Human Rights Watch said today.
On January 11, 2012, in the latest of a series of incidents documented by Human Rights Watch since October 2011, security forces rounded up and beat residents of Garissa, the provincial capital, in an open field within the enclosure of the local military camp. A Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed the incident.
“When military officers can beat civilians in broad daylight without fearing repercussions, it’s clear that impunity has become the norm,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Repeated promises by both the police and the military to stop these abuses and investigate have amounted to nothing.”
The Kenyan police and military have been responsible for a growing number of serious abuses against civilians since the Kenya Defence Forces entered southern Somalia in October, with the stated aim of eliminating al-Shabaab, an Islamist militia. The same month, suspected al-Shabaab sympathizers initiated a series of attacks against police, military, and civilian targets in Kenya.
In response, members of the security forces have been responsible for rape, beatings, looting, and arbitrary arrests of civilians. The crackdown has largely targeted Somali refugees and Kenyan ethnic Somalis, but residents of other ethnic backgrounds in North Eastern province have also been victimized.
The incident in Garissa on January 11 involved Kenyan citizens who told Human Rights Watch that they had been arbitrarily detained by the military. One of them, Ali Ibrahim Hilole, was at a shop across from the military camp buying items for a hospitalized relative when a military officer said to him: “Why are you standing here? So you’re al-Shabaab.” Soldiers forced him to accompany them to the camp, where they kicked him and told him to roll around on the ground.
Yusuf Khalif Mohamed, a long distance truck driver, stopped in Garissa for a soft drink on his way from Mombasa to Dadaab, where he was to make a food delivery for UNICEF. He parked his truck near the military camp, not knowing that parking was prohibited there. A military officer forced him to come to the camp, where soldiers threw a 20-liter container of water on him, forced him to roll on the ground, kicked him on the side, and hit him on the head with the butt of a gun. Mohamed told Human Rights Watch that one of them said, “I think you are al-Shabaab. You are bothering us in Somalia, and now you’ve come to bother us here.”
Both men, along with at least five to seven others who were similarly detained and mistreated – most of them truck drivers, and all of them Kenyan citizens – were released after 30 minutes. They were not interrogated or charged with any crime.
Isolo — Abdi Adan, an ethnic Somali living in Kenya’s central region of Isiolo, which has recently seen clashes between the Borana, Somali and Turkana communities and the displacement of thousands of people, tells IRIN about his experience of the violence: here.