9 April 2014

Kenya: Respect Human Rights in Crackdown, Says U.S.

Photo: H.Caux/UNHCR
Thousands held in the ongoing terror crackdown at the Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya (file photo).

Nairobi — US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has emphasised the need for the police to uphold human rights in the ongoing terror crackdown.

While describing terrorism as a global challenge, Godec stressed that the crackdown needs to be carried out in a way that does not infringe on the fundamental rights of the suspects.

"As the government does what it needs to do to secure the country, at the same time, the Constitution and the International law and commitments regarding human rights need to be respected," he indicated.

"It is important that as security operations are carried out, human rights are respected. Terrorism is a global challenge and one that we have to work together to meet," he said.

In an interview with Capital FM News on Wednesday morning, the ambassador expressed the US government's support to the Kenyan government in the war against terrorism.

"Kenya and the United States have done a lot together on terrorism and I think it is important that we continue to work together and I think is it important that we continue working together to meet the challenges that are out there," he said.

"The critical point is that the government clearly does need to take action to address this threat. It is real, it is serious and one of the government's most important obligations is to protect its citizens to ensure that they have security."

He condemned the recent attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa while stating that the vice needs to be rooted out completely.

"Terrorism is a big challenge around the world and of course even here in Kenya. Yes there have been some terrible incidents recently and the US certainly condemns these sorts of attacks. They are unacceptable," he said.

His statement followed declaration by police that Kasarani will remain a no-go zone for humanitarian organisations which have been seeking access to suspects-including refugees arrested in the crackdown.

Administration Police Spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said officers undertaking the exercise are under firm instructions from the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo not to allow any of the groups at the security zone.

UNHCR is among humanitarian organisations which have been seeking access to the stadium to enable its officials properly identify refugees, asylum-seekers and others of concern to them.

Mwinyi stated that 3,000 people have been screened so far, 467 are being detained for investigation while 69 others have been charged with various offences.

For the better part of the day yesterday, families of the suspects camped outside the stadium, painting a picture of a desperate situation, with humanitarian groups accusing police of violating their rights.

Some of the suspects detained by police are young boys who have not attained the age of 18 years, while others told police they are in the process of acquiring identification documents.

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