Kenyan forces disappeared 34 in counterterror sweeps, Rights group says

Human Rights Watch says ​Kenyan security forces have forcibly disappeared at least 34 people during counter-terrorism operations

Kenyan security forces have forcibly disappeared at least 34 people during counter-terrorism operations in the country’s capital and northeast over the past two years, Human Rights Watch said. 

The multi-agency security raids arrested people allegedly suspected of links to al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based militant group, the New York-based group said Wednesday in a report. Months later, those seized haven’t been charged with any crimes, nor located, with their families receiving little assistance from authorities, it said. 

Mwenda Njoka , a spokesman for Kenya’s Interior Ministry, said the government had just heard of the report and would respond later. “People in northeastern Kenya deserve protection from al-Shabaab attacks, not further abuse from the authorities,” said Ken Roth, Human Rights Watch’s executive director. “Rounding people up and refusing to disclose their whereabouts is a serious crime and only compounds fears and mistrust in the security forces.” 

Anti-militant operations began in northeastern counties such as Mandera shortly after al-Shabaab’s September 2013 attack on Westgate mall in the capital, Nairobi, in which at least 67 people died. The moves intensified after the al-Qaeda-linked group raided a college in Garissa county last year, killing at least 147 people, Human Rights Watch said.

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