Kenyan police beat and extort Somalis fleeing war-HRW


Kenyan police are using violence and intimidation to extort money from Somalis trying to flee their war-torn nation and reach the large refugee camps across the Kenyan border, a rights watchdog said on Thursday.
Kenya’s police rejected reports they were abusing those fleeing from fighting in Somalia. A brutal three-year insurgency in the failed African nation has caused what the United Nations calls one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Since 2007, 21 000 have died in the fighting and more than 1,5 million have fled their homes. More than 500 000 Somalis have crossed into neighbouring countries, many hoping to reach Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps.
But according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report released on Thursday, Somalis seeking safety must first get past abusive Kenyan police trying to take what little they have left.
“People fleeing the mayhem in Somalia, the vast majority women and children, are welcomed to Kenya with rape, whippings, beatings, detention, extortion and summary deportation,” said Gerry Simpson, HRW researcher and one of the report’s authors.
The report, “Welcome to Kenya: Police Abuse of Somali Refugees”, which is based on interviews with refugees, said an organised police extortion racket along some 200 km of the border was targeting desperate Somalis at their most vulnerable.
“In early 2010 alone, hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Somalis unable to pay extortion demands were sent back to Somalia, in flagrant violation of Kenyan and international law,” HRW said in a statement attached to the report.
— Reuters