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Kenya police assault, seek bribes from Somalia refugees, report says

Human Rights Watch says that thousands of Somali refugees fleeing the war in Somalia are met by Kenyan police who harass, assault, and even rape them. Kenyan officials deny the allegations.

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Kenyan police routinely abuse men, women, and children fleeing violence in Islamist-dominated Somalia and demand bribes to allow them to reach the safety of refugee camps, a report published Thursday claimed.

In interviews with more than 100 refugees, Human Rights Watch documented widespread harassment, violence and even rape carried out by Kenyan officers stationed close to the country’s closed border with Somalia.

Police use beatings, arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, and threats of deportation or prosecution to squeeze bribes from many of the 10,000 people a month fleeing to Kenya from Somalia.

Hundreds who are unable to pay are sent home – against Kenyan and international law – according to the 99-page report.

Peter Kusimba, Kenya’s Commissioner for Refugee Affairs, said that he had never heard any reports of Somalis being harassed as they crossed into Kenya. He refused to comment further.


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