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Kenya police abusing refugees: HRW

Kenyan police engaged in a 10-week rampage in Nairobi beginning in late 2012, torturing and abusing more than 1,000 refugees, asylum seekers and Somali Kenyans, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Wednesday. HRW claims that the Kenyan police used grenades and other attacks to relocate refugees to camps "as an excuse to rape, beat, extort money from, and arbitrarily detain." According to HRW, the police consistently referred to their victims as terrorists, which HRW believes may be in response to the attacks on law enforcement officials and civilians [NYT report] by unknown perpetrators, beginning in October 2011. At least 50 cases of abuse by Kenyan police amounted to torture, and only one Kenyan national so far has been charged, according to the HRW report. HRW urged Kenyan authorities to immediately open an independent public investigation.

This is the latest controversy surrounding Kenya officials. Last week African foreign ministers agreed to request that Kenyan leaders accused of inciting violence following the 2007 elections stand trial in their home country rather than before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] in The Hague. This follows a recent report [text, PDF] by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission [advocacy website] connecting [JURIST report] the Kenyan leaders to the violence. The African leaders' request stems from accusations [AFP report] by members of the African Union that the ICC targets African governments that do not please western leaders. The president and vice president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and William Ruto [JURIST news archive], respectively, stand accused of inciting violence following the 2007 elections [JURIST news archive] in which more than 1,100 people died.

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