NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 9 – Eighty two aliens have been deported to Somalia in the ongoing crackdown following increased terror threats.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku says 102 suspects are still being detained for further interrogation at the Safaricom Kasarani Stadium which has now been gazetted into a police station.
Those being detained there were previously moved to police stations in the night but will now be held at the stadium throughout after its gazettement.
“Those who have refugee documents are taken back to their respective camps, while those who are found to have broken the law, are taken to court.”
He said police are currently holding a total of 472 people in other police stations.
“The operation will continue within the law and so far, there are no reported cases of people being mishandled,” he affirmed. “This is not a place of incarceration.”
The Cabinet Secretary who was accompanied by Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said the terror crackdown will go on despite protests from politicians, envoys and humanitarian organisations which have been denied access to the stadium.
During a controlled visit for the media and human right activists, he refuted claims of police harassing those detained, saying they were being handled professionally.
“As a Government we are very concerned when we hear individuals implying that what is going on is not within the law, we have gazetted this place as a police station where screening of those who have been arrested in the swoop are taken,” he said.
“Police have clear instructions that they will work in a professional way. That’s why we have invited you here to tell the truth.”
There was a scramble as more than 50 local and international journalists went through the process to ascertain the condition of those who were arrested. “You want to cause a stampede?” Ole Lenku at some point posed.
“The event has received coverage almost similar to what was happening during inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta, there are too many (journalists),” an officer manning the entry said.
Inside, there is a room for officials from the Immigration Department and the National Police Service involved in the screening process.
The room has computers and other electronic gadgets meant to establish identification documents that are genuine.
One of the women arrested, an Ethiopian who was at the service desk when we visited said, “they are saying my documents are okay, I’m now in the final stage. I am a refugee…I don’t know whether they will take me back to my country.”
Asked whether she would like to go back to her home country, she shook her head in the negative, with teary eyes.
Outside the room, those arrested queue waiting for their turn to be served.
“We are ensuring that our customers are safe here and comfortable,” Christopher Mutali one of the officers involved in the screening said.
Men and women are placed in different tightly guarded rooms.
At lunch time, the detainees are escorted by police – with female officers guiding women – to be served with food. “You can also eat this food… take some,” Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo could be heard telling the journalists.
Those held inside are of various nationalities including Kenyans who were arrested for lack of identification documents.
Despite being granted access, human rights activist Al-Amin Kimathi said the move was too little too late. “We are perturbed by the manner in which they are carrying out the operation…it’s opaque,” he complained.
“We do support any legal activity ensured at maintaining security, law and order in this country and we want to see it done within the precincts of law.”
On Wednesday morning, US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec urged the police to uphold human rights in the terror crackdown, a day after the UNHCR was denied access to visit the detainees.
“The Government is supposed to secure the country but at the same time the Constitution and the laws must be respected regarding human rights. It is important that as security operations are carried out, that human rights are respected,” Godec said.
In an interview with Capital FM News, the ambassador expressed the US government’s support to the Kenyan government in the war against terrorism.
“I think it is important that we continue to work together and we will continue to work together to meet the challenges out there. The Government clearly does need to take action to address this threat, it is real, it is serious…one of the government’s most important obligation is to protect its citizens,” Godec said.