Kenyan rights group accuses national anti-terrorism police of unlawful activity

Kenyan rights group accuses national anti-terrorism police of unlawful activity

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[JURIST] The Kenyan human rights group Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) [official website] and the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy website] issued a report [report, PDF] on Tuesday, calling on the US and the UK to suspend financial support to Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU). The document, entitled “We’re Tired of Taking You to the Court,” alleges that the ATPU has committed severe human rights violations in Kenya throughout its 10-year history, including mistreatment and harassment of prisoners, disappearances of suspects, and unlawful killings. The report is comprised from more than 40 in-person interviews conducted by the two advocacy groups and is supplemented by national court documents. The ATPU has been given nearly $50 million [Guardian report] from the US State Department’s anti-terrorism fund since 2003, and has received additional support from the UK in the form of funding, equipment, and training.

The report’s publishing comes months after 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.