Counterterrorism and Human Rights Abuses in Kenya and Uganda: The World Cup Bombing and Beyond

East Africa has emerged in recent years as a focus of both transnational terrorism and Western-backed counterterrorism efforts. Governments have a responsibility to combat terrorism in a lawful manner. But as this report documents, counterterrorism tactics and operations in East Africa have led to a variety of human rights violations. Governments in the region have cited the need to fight terrorism as a pretext to crack down on political opposition, human rights defenders, and lawful expressions of dissent. 

This report looks at how the governments of Kenya, Uganda, the United States, and the United Kingdom responded to the 2010 World Cup bombing in Kampala, Uganda. The counterterrorism actions that followed the bombing were characterized by human rights violations, including allegations of arbitrary detention, unlawful renditions, physical abuse, and denial of due process rights.

In examining these abuses and the parties responsible for them, the report argues that Kenya, Uganda, and the Western countries that support them must thoroughly investigate the alleged abuses, and must pursue counterterrorism activities that do not entail human rights violations.

The report was produced by the Open Society Justice Initiative and is supported by the East Africa Law Society, the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists, and the Pan African Lawyers Union.

Read the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation response to allegations made in this report, in a statement issued in May, 2013.