Rights group urges investigation into Kenya police investigative practices
Rights group urges investigation into Kenya police investigative practices

[JURIST] Privacy International [advocacy website], a rights group devoted to promoting and protecting the privacy rights of individuals worldwide released a report [text, PDF] on Wednesday documenting serious human rights abuses such as torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances that have allegedly resulting from the surveillance techniques and practices of Kenya’s police and intelligence agencies. The report alleges that the National Intelligence Service exercises its power to intercept an individual’s communications and gathers information, which it then shares with the police. The police “then obtain the necessary clearance to re-surveil the same target to produce evidence admissible in court … That is, if a suspect ever gets to court.” The report is based on various interviews conducted and documents acquired by Privacy International. According to the report, “One in three Kenyans has been subject to ill treatment at the hands of the police … police officers killed 122 persons in the first eight months of 2016.” The report also alleges that the Kenya government has, among other things, targeted and deregistered 500 civil society groups, frozen the bank accounts of Muslim human rights groups, and “overtly questioned whether its critics support ‘the Kenyan people or terrorist groups.'” Also according to the report, several lawyers and media professionals and have disappeared under suspicious circumstances. The report closes with various recommendations for the Kenya government, Kenya’s national human rights commission, national security council, cabinet secretary, inspector-general of the national police, and independent policing oversight authority. Among other things the recommendations include launching an investigation into the practices and surveillance techniques of police officers.

Kenya has been in the spotlight in the last two months over various human rights issues and international disputes. Last month a group of UN human rights experts urged [JURIST report] Kenya to stop crackdowns on human rights groups to protect the integrity of the August elections. Also last month a judge in Kenya sentenced [JURIST report] the leaders of the doctors’ union to one month in prison over an ongoing strike. The same month the High Court of Kenya ruled [JURIST report] that a government order to close the world’s largest refugee camp is unconstitutional. Early in February the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled [JURIST report] that it had the authority to adjudicate a dispute between Kenya and Somalia over a stretch of water in the Indian Ocean that is potentially laden with oil and gas. In January Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a controversial law [JURIST report] enabling a paper recount of votes in the event that electronic systems fail—a move having the potential of impacting the August election.