Monday, May 7, 2012

Human Rights Watch Criticism of Kenyan Abuses of Ethnic Somalis

Human Rights Watch (HRW) just released a particularly harsh account of abuses by the Kenyan police, Kenyan military and soldiers of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) against ethnic Somalis. The report acknowledged that there have been attacks by unknown individuals against Kenyan security personnel such as the 24 November 2011 killing of a Kenyan soldier by an explosive device in Mandera, a town in Kenya's North Eastern province near the border with Somalia. The focus of the HRW report is the abuse that has been meted out to Somalis who HRW says had nothing to do with the attacks against Kenyan and TFG security personnel. The abuses documented in the HRW report took place in Garissa, Wajir, Mandera and in the Somali refugee camp at Dadaab. HRW argued that in apparent reaction to Kenya's Operation Linda Nchi, unknown assailants, suspected of being al-Shabaab supporters, have launched a series of attacks within Kenyan territory, targeting military and police, government vehicles and installations, and select bars and restaurants.

Click here to read the HRW report.

To the extent these abuses affected innocent Somalis, they are obviously wrong and should be condemned. While Kenyan and TFG security forces are clearly frustrated, such attacks can not be justified. In addition, they are counter productive because they will alienate even more Somalis. At the same time, one should not lose sight of the more horrific abuses being carried out by al-Shabaab against innocent people on both sides of the border.

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