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Rights group alleges abuses by Kenya anti-terror police group

[JURIST] Kenya's Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) has carried out a series of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in violation of international human rights laws, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [HRW report] Monday. Based on interview research conducted between November 2013 and June 2014, terrorism suspects were badly mistreated, killed, beaten, abducted and detained without access to families or lawyers. HRW called on Kenya to thoroughly investigate the allegations of human rights abuses and urged the US to suspend donor support to the ATPU.

The ATPU has previously come under criticism by other human rights groups. Last year the Kenyan human rights group Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) and the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy websites] issued a report [JURIST report], calling on the US and the UK to suspend financial support to the ATPU. The report's publishing followed the completion of a new ATPU headquarters in Nairobi in May, which was partially funded by international anti-terror agencies. The facility increased technological capabilities and physical space for the ATPU, whose mission is to coordinate and carry out anti-terrorism operations within Kenya in support of the international War on Terror [JURIST backgrounder]. The unit's primary focus of late is Kenya's second-largest city, Mombasa, because the port city has become a major recruitment target for the al-Qaida linked Islamist group al-Shabaab [BBC Backgrounder; JURIST news archive], based in Somalia.

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