Kenyan security forces accused of torture
The Associated Press
Monday, June 29, 2009; 9:10 AM
NAIROBI, Kenya -- Kenyan security forces tortured hundreds of civilians and raped at least a dozen women during a three-day operation to disarm militias in the country's remote northeast last year, a right group claimed Monday.
New York-based Human Rights Watch urged an inquiry into the operation in the Mandera region, a desolate and violent area near the borders of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
"Instead of protecting Mandera's residents, the military and police systematically beat and tortured them," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
Kenya's government spokesman, Alfred Mutua, dismissed the allegations.
"They never come to us for our side of the story," Mutua said. "We don't know where they get this information from."
In its 51-page report, called "Bring the Gun or You'll Die," Human Rights Watch said it interviewed victims who "fainted, vomited blood, and endured continued beating after suffering broken limbs."
"Some men had their genitals pulled with pliers, tied with wire, or beaten with sticks as a method of torture designed to make them confess and turn over guns," the report added.
Inter-clan fighting and cross-border raids kill dozens of people every year in Mandera, which suffers from poverty, unemployment, drought and competition over grazing land. The region's proximity to Somalia means there has been a proliferation of weapons flowing into villages.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to prosecute those responsible for the Mandera operation, "including the commanding officers who supervised the operation and did nothing to stem abuses by subordinates."