We’re Tired of Taking You to the Court: Human Rights Abuses by Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit

The Kenyan government has credited its Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) with providing a robust counterterrorism response, thwarting dozens of terrorist plots, and arresting or killing dozens of terrorist suspects.

But, in carrying out its work, the ATPU has committed a wide array of human rights abuses that violate international, regional, and domestic law.

This report is based on over 40 interviews carried out by researchers from the Open Society Justice Initiative and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) a non-governmental organization based in Mombasa, Kenya.

It includes credible allegations of extrajudicial killings, beatings of terrorist suspects, arbitrary detention, renditions, and the disappearance of at least one man by the ATPU. The report traces ATPU abuses from 2007 to the present and demonstrates that the ATPU’s abuses are counterproductive to combatting terrorism and destroy the trust between communities and Kenya’s security forces.

At a time when Kenya is undertaking sweeping reforms to limit the police’s excessive powers, the ATPU must receive greater scrutiny and oversight. ATPU officials must be held accountable for their human rights abuses, and victims must receive reparations. In addition, the new police reforms must be urgently implemented. Finally it is important that foreign security assistance does not help to fund security forces such as the ATPU that commit human rights abuses.