HRW: Kenya police, military harassing environmental activists

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Police and the military in Kenya are harassing environmental activists protesting a giant infrastructure project in Lamu county, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The organisation says at least 35 activists in the area have been targeted by authorities and subject to threats, beatings and arbitrary arrests. The activists are protesting against the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor infrastructure project amid concerns over the long-term environmental impact.

Activists harassed in Lamu

Working in conjunction with rights group, the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders, Human Rights Watch has released a joint study detailing the actions of Kenyan police and military against activists in Lamu.

Dozens of activists have been targeted by authorities in related to their protests against the LAPSSET project, according to the report. In many cases, activists have been intimidated and some have been detained without charge.

Human Rights Watch has condemned the actions of police and the military in Lamu.

“Kenyan authorities should focus on addressing the environmental and health concerns relating to the LAPSSET development project instead of harassing the activists who raise the issues,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Silencing activists isn’t going to resolve the concerns over whether the government plans are going to harm the environment and the people living there.”

LAPSSET is the largest infrastructure project in East and Central Africa, including a 32-berth seaport in Lamu, three international airports, three resort cities, a coal-fired power plant and numerous other projects, as well as a road and railway network.

Featured image: Google Maps

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.