Rights groups fault crackdown on illegal immigrants

Wednesday April 16 2014

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chair

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chair Kagwiria Mbogori taking oath of office at the Supreme Court in Nairobi on April 7, 2014. PHOTO/ANNE KAMONI 

By EUNICE KILONZO
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Human rights groups have criticised the ongoing national swoop on illegal immigrants saying it is unconstitutional.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Wednesday led ten other non-governmental organisations in questioning the methods used by the government in the security swoop dubbed ‘Operation Usalama Watch’, which they claimed is unlawful.

Addressing the press in Nairobi, KNCHR chairperson Kagwira Mbogori said: “We support measures to counter terrorism. The move by the Government to ensure the security of all Kenyans is a human right. As an organisation we laud the government for it. However, we take issue with the methods employed as some methods such as ethnic profiling do not conform to Article 27 of the Kenya Constitution which is against discrimination.”

In a statement read by Ms Mbogori on behalf of Transparency International Kenya, Muslim Human Rights Forum (MUHURI) and FIDA-Kenya among other organisation added: “Terrorism is a cowardly act that hurts innocent people. But for any suspect of terrorism, the people are considered innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law. As such the extra judicial killing or unexplained murders of search person is unlawful especially in a country that practices the rule of law. Extra Judicial execution, it seems, has become a method of law enforcement, which should not be the case.”

They also queried the validity of the operation and whether it was a solution to solving terrorism in the country.

MUHURI director Ms Rukia Rashid said: “Is this operation the best way to handle the insecurity concerns in the country? At this point I am not sure who will get into my house in the name of undertaking a security search. It could be a thief,” she said

“The Government should invest in an evidence-led counterterrorism programme which will be constitutionally founded instead of what is happening currently. Otherwise, the objectives of law enforcement will erode the relationship between the police and the communities they serve,” Ms Gladwell Otieno, of Africa Centre for Open Governance said.