KENYA: Defence Forces deployed to fight al-Shabaab militants

Members of the Kenyan Defence Forces, KDF, deployed to fight al-Shabaab militants in parts of the country have been accused of gross rights abuse.

The Star media portal on Friday reported widespread outrage in the town of Mpeketoni located in the country’s Lamu County where residents accuse the soldiers of dehumanizing treatment in a bid to enforce an unofficial curfew.

The portal said some of the inhumane actions the soldiers meted out to their victims included rolling in muddy sewage, carrying motorbikes and doing frog jumps, all for walking out at night.

The report cited a bar operator, Kathleen Wanjiru, as having been subjected to the muddy sewage treatment on Monday despite explaining to the soldiers that she operated a bar in Mpeketoni and providing them with her identification card.

“They said they would teach me a lesson so I won’t walk at night again. It was the most humiliating experience of my life. I was not alone. I saw an elderly man who is respected in Mpeketoni also undergoing the same. It was very embarrassing,” Wanjiru said.

The operation for which soldiers have been deployed to the Lamu and Kilifi counties is under the codename, Linda Boni. It was started in 2015 as part of plans to flush out al-Shabaab insurgents from the Boni Forest.

Whiles rights groups are asking for a probe and confirmation of whether a curfew has been reimposed, an army spokesperson is on record as stating that after an ongoing probe, errant soldiers will be appropriately sanctioned.

“If any of our officers will be found culpable, then be sure the right measures will be instituted against them.The soldiers have no right to harass people. It’s not part of their mandate,” the officer said.

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