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Watchdog wants Mandera operation halted

NAIROBI, October 31 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has called for an immediate stop of the ongoing military operation in Mandera, until a more humane disarmament approach is adopted.

KNCHR Vice Chairman Hassan Omar said on Friday that the commission was concerned about cases of rape, beatings, arbitrary arrests and other violations allegedly being carried out by members of the security units tasked with the operation.

“We undertook a fact-finding mission after receiving reports of human rights abuses and we can reveal that there are serious violations going on.”

Mr Omar said life in Mandera had come to a standstill with shops being closed and learning paralysed since most of the teachers had been victims.

The government has in the last month embarked on a disarmament exercise in El Wak, Wargadud, Lafey, Fino and Arabia regions of Mandera District. This exercise has been jointly undertaken by the Kenya Police, Administration Police and the Kenyan Military.

Speaking at the KNCHR offices Mr Omar said the government should impartially investigate complaints made against the security agents involved in the exercise.

He told journalists; “Persons who have allegedly suffered should be given an opportunity to register their complaints for official action without fear or victimisation.”

The KNCHR Commissioner further stated that should investigations unearth torture and other human rights violations then the units responsible must be brought to justice and victims granted adequate reparations.

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Mr Omar urged the government to devise short and long term remedies to resolve insecurity in Mandera. This, he said, should be done in collaboration with communities living in the region as well as other stakeholders.

The government’s offensive operation had by Wednesday led to the arrest of over 200 suspects and the recovery of 38 assault rifles and grenade launchers.

Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe had on Wednesday lauded the operation and vowed it would continue until law and order is restored at the frontier town.

The Police Spokesman however denied claims that innocent people were being harassed and maintained that officers were carrying out the operation within the mandate provided to them by the law.

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