Annual Report: Kenya 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Kenya 2013

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  • In October, police arrested Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) leader Omar Mwamnuadzi, as well as more than 40 other people believed to be members of the MRC. During their arrest, two people were killed and several others injured by the police, including Omar Mwamnuadzi who was beaten. The group was charged with a range of offences, including belonging to an unlawful group, incitement and possession of firearms. Their cases were pending at the end of the year.
  • In October, police fired rubber bullets into a crowd demonstrating outside a police station about insecurity in Mathare, an informal settlement in Nairobi. Three protesters were arrested and charged with incitement to violence. Seven activists, including an Amnesty International staff member and two volunteers, who had attempted to meet with the police to discuss the protest, were arbitrarily detained, held overnight at Pangani police station in incommunicado detention and beaten. They were charged with incitement to violence, obstructing an officer while on duty and disorderly behaviour. The case was pending at the end of the year.

In November and December, hundreds of ethnic Somali people were arbitrarily or discriminatorily detained by the police and other security forces, particularly in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi, following grenade or other bomb attacks. The attacks were thought to be linked to Al Shabaab, an Islamist armed group operating in Somalia but which has allegedly carried out some operations in Kenya. However, there is also a pattern of discrimination against Somalis in Kenya because of the perceived burden on the country as it hosts a large number of Somali refugees (see Refugees and asylum-seekers sub-section). Over the course of three days in December, up to 300 people were reported to have been arrested, including Somali refugees and asylum-seekers as well as Kenyan Somalis. Most were subsequently released without charge. However, many of those detained alleged that security forces had ill-treated them during arrest or detention and had extorted, or attempted to extort, money from them. The wave of arrests and lack of charges gives rise to serious concerns that the response of the authorities was rooted in discrimination against Somalis.

  • In October, Shem Kwega, an Orange Democratic Movement politician, was killed in Kisumu city by unknown people. His death led to a public demonstration, which turned violent, with stones being thrown at police. In responding to the protest the police used live ammunition and four people were reported to have been fatally shot. A number of people also died when a container in which they took shelter caught fire. Witnesses said that the fire started when police fired tear gas into the container.

Communal violence

Conflict between the Pokomo and Orma communities over water and pasture land intensified in Tana River County. It is believed that some 200 people had been killed in such clashes by the end of the year, and approximately 30,000 displaced.

Despite the deployment of more than 2,000 police officers to the Tana Delta in September, the clashes persisted, raising serious concerns about the security forces' response to the situation and their ability to protect the human rights of people in Tana. Residents claimed that they repeatedly attempted to raise their concerns about the escalating situation with the police and security forces before August, but they were not taken seriously.

The Kenyan authorities created a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these killings and allegations that the police failed to respond appropriately, but it had yet to report by the end of the year.