11 February 2019

Kenya: Freed Fishermen Claim They Were Tortured By Tanzanian Police

Six Kenyan fishermen who were arrested and charged by the Tanzanian government for over three months have been released after paying a Sh200,000 fine.

On Sunday, the fishermen arrived at Kanyakire beach in Nyatike Sub County on a boat from Sota beach in Tanzania.

The six were detained following their arrest for allegedly fishing on Tanzania's Lake Victoria side using illegal fishing gears.

"We have suffered for long, at last we are free. We were arrested by Tanzania security officers who were patrolling the lake at night of November 5, 2018, accusing us of crossing the boundary and using illegal fishing gears in the Lake," said Mr Jared Okoth.

'TORTURED'

The fishermen recounted their ordeal in the hands of Tanzanian officers at Musoma Police Station, where they claimed they were often denied food, flogged and forced to eat raw fish.

"We were forced to spend a night or a day without food. On some days, were forced to eat raw fish. It was really hard living in the Tanzanian cell. We are happy to come back home today," said Mr Okoth.

Another freed fisherman, Mr Opiyo Otiwa, requested the national government to provide security to Kenyan fishermen in Lake Victoria.

"Our people need security. We pay taxes to the government and we don't know why we are suffering. These people need compensation. Their boats were exposed to direct sunlight for three months and they cannot use them anymore because they are leaking," said Mr Otiwa.

'EXTORTION'

Mihuru Bay ward representative Hevron Mahira accused the government of failing to protect its citizens from external aggression.

"Kenyan fishermen are facing harassment from our neighbours Tanzania and Uganda but the government is just silent over the matter," said Mr Maira.

The ward rep said Tanzanian and Ugandan security officials have been extorting Kenyan fishermen. Mr Mahira said the security officer arrest Kenyan fishermen to force them to part with their hard-earned money to their secure freedom.

"The fishers keep spending a lot of money to get released whenever they are arrested. This has become a big business for the Ugandan and Tanzanian security officials," Mr Maira said.

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