NAIROBI, Kenya, June 29 (UPI) -- Kenyan security forces beat and tortured residents in its Mandera districts, underscoring the pressing need for police reform, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
The report, "'Bring the Gun or You'll Die': Torture, Rape, and Other Serious Human Rights Violations by Kenyan Security Forces in the Mandera Triangle," documented abuses during a disarmament operation and offered accounts of the events in four of the 10 communities targeted, Human Rights Watch said in a release.
The report called for independent inquiries into the operations in Mandera and elsewhere and for the removal of the police commissioner and attorney general.
"Instead of protecting Mandera's residents, the military and police systematically beat and tortured them," said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director. "Unless the behavior of the security forces changes, and perpetrators and especially commanders are held to account, all the government talk about police reform is meaningless."
The joint military-police security operation occurred Oct. 25-28, 2008, in Kenya's northeastern Mandera districts. The operation followed deadly clashes between local clans.
In February, Human Rights Watch researchers visited five towns, and documented accounts of men being rounded up and beaten, widespread looting and rapes. In the week following the operation, the Kenya Red Cross treated more than 1,200 civilians who said they had been wounded by the security forces, the HRW report said.
"This is not a question of a few bad apples disobeying orders," Roth said. "This operation was the result of a strategy devised by senior officials to use brutal force against Kenyan citizens."