The burning down of more than 100 Kenyan secondary schools nationwide, set ablaze by unknown assailants in July 2016 and during the public school year’s second term, will make 2016 go down in history as Kenya’s most destructive year.
What began as student unrest in a Kisii County school, after administrators denied pupils a chance to watch the Euro Cup finals, spread across the country. Innocent Kenyans assumed students were just expressing their displeasure by burning a school.
Yesterday, in a packed Nairobi court room, I watched Kenyan prosecutors charge four police officers with murder for the deaths of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda, and their taxi driver Joseph Muiruri. The police officers pleaded not guilty.
This widely-reported case is more than a murder trial; it is a signature moment for all concerned with police abuse and impunity. Yesterday, it was encouraging to see some progress in the investigation and judicial process.
Government Should Abandon Abusive ‘Homosexuality Test’
A Kenyan Court has ruled that forced anal examinations and forced HIV and Hepatitis B tests of men suspected of homosexual conduct are constitutional, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) and Human Rights Watch said today. The deeply disappointing ruling would allow the government to continue these abusive practices and to use the test results as “evidence” in criminal prosecutions for consensual same-sex conduct.
The ruling, by the Mombasa High Court, is a blow to petitioners who rightly argued that the forced anal examinations they were forced to endure are a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that can often amount to torture. The case was brought by two men who were subjected to forced anal exams, HIV tests, and Hepatitis B tests at Mombasa’s Madaraka Hospital in February 2015.
The Kenyan government is constructing a timetable to close all refugee camps due to security concerns. About 600,000 people will be displaced– some of which have spent decades or even their entire lives in the camps.
The Dadaab camp lies along the Somali border; the Kenyan government claims Islamists are using the camp to launch attacks in Nairobi. Kenya’s camps host refugees from neighboring war-torn countries Sudan and Somalia. The Kenyan government has tried to close the camps before. In 2013 they abandoned the original plan after the UN told them they can’t forcibly return refugees to their home countries. Despite Somalia’s al-Shabaab insurgency, Kenya has been successfully attempting to relocate a portion of their camps’ Somalian refugees voluntarily. Once given refugee status, a person cannot be forcibly returned to their homeland unless the situation has improved. According to Kenya, the situation in Somalia has improved. Whether it has improved enough to allow Kenya to forcibly return refugees is still up in the air.
Along with relocating refugees and closing the camps, Kenya is constructing a wall along the Somali border. The Kenyan government claims the wall is intended to minimize attacks in Kenya by al-Shabaab and hopefully keep out an insurgency. If Kenya is ultimately forced to keep their refugee camps open, the security wall would be a convenient solution to limit the amount of new (or returning) refugees entering the country. Also, if Kenya is constructing a wall to prevent violence overflowing from Somalia, the situation in Somalia probably hasn’t improved enough for them to forcibly return refugees.