Refugee Boy Sustains Injuries in Police Beating
Volume 1, Issue 2 / January 2009
A 16-year old refugee boy sustained injuries after he was beaten by a Kenyan police officer on 15 December, 2008, at Food Distribution Centre Three in Kakuma Refugee Camp. The incident occurred while the boy was collecting his food rations.
The young man, I.M., sustained severe pains following the beating. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and was discharged the following day. He was not issued with a medical report upon his discharge.
According to I.M., the police officer was chasing away a crowd when he found I.M. standing outside the food distribution centre. In the process, he pushed and slapped I.M. When the boy showed some resistance, the police officer dragged him into the compound and continued beating him.
“He even kicked me with a gun butt,” recounts I.M.
A person who witnessed the scene and assisted I.M. reports, “He was beaten up so that he could not even have enough strength to leave the place of beating. He requested us for help, saying ‘I am very weak’ while lying down.”
A senior police officer from Kakuma Police Station went to inquire shortly after the incident occurred. He gathered that the boy’s rudeness had “forced” the officer to discipline him. “Our officers were chasing the unnecessary crowding after a report of 32 bags of food stolen under unknown circumstances,” the officer explained. Further information on the stolen bags could not be obtained because the issue is “very sensitive,” according to police.
Kenyan police regularly monitor every food distribution cycle to ensure order. Refugees collecting rations have blamed police for using unnecessary force on some occasions, whereas the police sometimes accuse refugees of not being cooperative and submissive to orders while collecting their rations.
The witness to I.M.’s beating believes this incident is part of a larger trend. “This has been happening every time. It is not the first time. You can come during the next ration cycle to see what normally happens. Even ourselves, we have experienced this kind of treatment.”
The incident occurred at the end-year food distribution cycle in which refugees are given a one-month supply of food rations instead of the usual fortnight’s supply.