The U.S. Institute for Defense Analyses in the latest issue of Africa Watch features an article by Alexander Noyes entitled Kenya: Mass Arrests Counterproductive and Undermine Security Reform Pledge:
Kenya’s vulnerability to Islamist militant attacks should not be downplayed, as tragically illustrated by the Westgate mall massacre last September. That said, the government’s heavy-handed counterterrorism response is troubling and counterproductive on a number of fronts. First, as warned by the KNCHR and highlighted in the April 3 edition of AfricaWatch, such indiscriminate policies fuel a “cycle of violence” that risks further alienating and radicalizing Kenya’s Somali and Muslim communities. Second, the crackdown undermines President Kenyatta’s recent pledge to overhaul Kenya’s security agencies. As the author has argued elsewhere, Kenya’s previous power-sharing government was able to achieve real, if halting and incomplete, institutional security reform successes, including legislative and constitutional changes.The recent mass arrests and troubling allegations against security forces suggest that the Kenyatta administration is more interested in building up the capacity of the security agencies to fight terrorism—fostering the perception of security—than in consolidating any of Kenya’s fragile institutional gains on security reform.