Group says people fleeing Somalia detained

March 31, 2007 at 6:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- Kenya, Ethiopia, the United States and Somalia have cooperated in a "shameful" detention of people fleeing Somalia, New York-based Human Rights Watch says.

In a letter to the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Ministry, the group outlined how dozens of people fleeing the fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts and the joint forces of the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia allegedly were detained, expelled or forced to disappear between December and January, the organization said Friday in a news release.

"Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone," said Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch. "Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to 'disappear,' and U.S. security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado."

The organization said Kenya may have had valid security concerns about refugees seeking haven there, but these concerns should have been addressed in accordance with international law.

In Nairobi, intelligence services from the United States and other nations questioned foreign nationals who were denied access to legal counsel and consular representatives, Human Rights Watch said, with at least 85 people secretly deported from Kenya to Somalia.

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