At least 140 men, women and children fleeing conflict in Somalia were arrested by Kenyan authorities between 30 December 2006 and February 2007 as they tried to enter Kenya.
Most detainees were held for weeks without charge and some were reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Some were allegedly beaten by the Kenyan police and forced to undress before being photographed. The detainees did not have access to their relatives or to lawyers. Some of the detainees were questioned – their interrogators included US agents. They were also denied access to the UN Refugee Agency and to asylum procedures.
What has happened to these 140 people?
85 were unlawfully transferred to Somalia. Four who were UK residents were sent from Somalia to the UK and released, and the remaining 81 were transferred to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian authorities only acknowledge the detention of 41 - 22 of whom were later released and one was brought to military court – and the whereabouts of the remaining 40 detainees are unknown. Several detainees were reportedly tortured or ill-treated in detention. Those still held have no access to a lawyer or their families.
27 were either released in Kenya or sent back to their countries.
Only one detainee was charged in Kenya.
The location of the remaining 27 detainees is unknown.
Amnesty International calls on the Ethiopian, Kenyan and Somali authorities to immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of all detainees.
Detainees must be promptly charged and tried before an ordinary court or else released. No one should be transferred to the custody of another state unless the transfer is carried out in line with international standards. No detainee should be returned to countries where they could face torture, ill-treatment or other human rights violations.
Spotlight: Women behind bars
At least 13 out of the 81 people rendered to Ethiopia were women. Many
had their children with them and some were pregnant. Two reportedly
gave birth in custody in Ethiopia. Many of these women were held solely
because they are family members of suspected members of al-Qa’ida or of
the Council of Somali Islamic Courts.
Their detention violates the right to liberty and security of the
person and the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest or