By Kasembeli Albert
Anxiety has gripped the Kenyan corridors of power and the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) after it emerged that Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has infiltrated the Kenya police service and established a unit within, which pays allegiance to NISS and executes orders from Addis Ababa.
Security pundits consider this an act of treason on the part of Kenya police officers involved.
Despite notification from the Kenya spy-master – National Security Intelligence Services (NSIS), sources intimated to The Sunday Express that nothing had been done to avert the lurking threat to the national security by such infiltration by a foreign agency.
“This guys are operating with impunity as though they are no longer officers of the National police Service,” said a senior police officer at Vigilance House.
When contacted the Inspector General, David Kimaiyo denied knowledge of such a unit operating under his arm bit. “Am not aware of that. In fact am hearing it from you,” said Kimaiyo.
Though officials at the Ethiopian Embassy in Nairobi declined to comment on the matter only referring as to Addis Abba, our sources within the embassy divulged that 50 polices officers are on the pay roll of the Ethiopia Government.
The officers under the command of senior police officer based in Nairobi received a total monthly payment of 900,000 Ethiopia Birr (KSh4.5 million) monthly minus the allowances and money meant to facilitate specific operations. The officers are said to live a lavish life and are accessible to top of the range cars.
Even as Ethiopia appears to be using the old spying system. Questions are emerging as to why the government has never taken stern measures against officers involved including charging them with treason because it is clear espionage.
Security analyst Simiyu Werunga attributes this to poor pay and deplorable working conditions, leaving the officers more vulnerable to corruption and bribery. “The government should take a stern action against the suspects for having taken part in criminal activities against their country even after taking an oath,” he said.
It is worth noting that NISS is a very powerful and dreaded organ of Ethiopia’s totalitarian government. It is to protect national security by providing quality intelligence and reliable security services. Under the plans presented, it is accountable to the Prime Minister. The agency has a wide permit to lead intelligence and security work both inside and outside Ethiopia.
“The unit specifically compiles intelligence reports as to specifics missions as requests made by Addis,” said a source privy to operations of the unit. The unit too specifically monitors the operations of Ethiopian dissidents and refugees living in Kenya.
The unit is also said to be responsible for kidnappings of Ethiopian refuges and dissidents and their subsequent repatriation to Addis Ababa where they face death, brutality and long prison sentences. The unit has specific detail to trail their eyes on Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Oganden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
Last week, two police officers appeared in court charged with alleged abduction of two ONLF leaders in Nairobi. On January 26, two top officials of ONLF were abducted from outside a popular restaurant in Upper Hill, Nairobi. The two who were identified as Mr Sulub Ahmed and Ali Hussein were members of the ONLF negotiation team that was in Nairobi for a proposed third round of talks.
It is claimed security agencies from Ethiopia and Kenya were involved in the kidnapping. They were abducted by men who were in three waiting cars. One of the cars, a black Toyota Prado was seized and detained at the Turbi police station on Monday but the two were missing amid speculation they had been taken across to Ethiopia. The ONLF officials were invited by the Kenyan government for peace negotiations.
The two officers charged, a Chief Inspector Painito Bera Ng’ang’ai and Constable James Ngaparini are attached to Nairobi Area CID. He added the officers had been identified by witnesses as having participated in the abduction of Mr Sulub Ahmed and Ali Hussein who were members of the ONLF negotiation team that was in Nairobi for a proposed third round of talks.
Last week, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta expressing its deep concern regarding the safety of four Oromo refugees from Ethiopia who were arbitrarily arrested by Kenyan anti-terrorist squad from Isili area in Nairobi on different dates of operations and taken to unknown destinations.
According documents in our possession, Mr. Tumsa Roba Katiso, (UNHCR attestation File#: NETH033036/1) was arrested by people claiming to by a team of Kenyan police, who arrived at the scene in two vehicles, on February 1, 2014 at around 10:00 AM from 2nd Avenue Eastleigh Nairobi on his way home from shopping. The other three refugees, Mr. Chala Abdalla, Mr. Namme Abdalla, and the third person whose name is not known yet were picked up from their home which is located in the same vicinity.
They are alleged to have been picked by the special police squad on the payroll of Addis Ababa. The whereabouts of those Ethiopian-Oromo refugees is unknown until the time of going to press.
The HRLHA is highly suspicious that those Ethiopian-Oromo refugees might have been deported to Ethiopia. And, in case those Ethiopian-Oromo refugees have been deported, the Ethiopian Government has a well-documented record of gross and flagrant violations of human rights, including the torturing of its own citizens who were involuntarily returned to the country.
The government of Ethiopia routinely imprisons such persons and sentences them to up to life in prison, and often impose death penalty. There have been credible reports of physical and psychological abuses committed against individuals in Ethiopian official prisons and other unofficial or secret detention centres.
Under Article 33 (1) of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (189 U.N.T.S. 150), to which Kenya is a party, “[n]o contracting state shall expel or forcibly return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his . . . political opinion.”
This obligation, which is also a principle of customary international law, applies to both asylum seekers and refugees, as affirmed by UNHCR’s Executive Committee and the United Nations General Assembly. By deporting the four refugees and others, the Kenyan Government will be breaching its obligations under international treaties as well as customary law.
Though some government officials denied it is official government policy, the Kenyan Government is well known for handing over refugees to the Ethiopian Government by violating the above mentioned international obligations. Engineer Tesfahun Chemeda, who died on August 24, 2013 in Ethiopia’s grand jail of Kaliti due1 to torture that was inflicted on him in that jail, was handed over to the Ethiopian government security agents in 2007 by the Kenyan police.
Tesfahun Chemeda was arrested by the Kenyan police, along with his close friend called Mesfin Abebe, in 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya, where both were living as refugees since 2005; and later deported to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government detained them in an underground jail in a military camp for over one year, during which time they were subjected to severe torture and other types of inhuman treatments until when they were taken to court and changed with terrorism offences in December 2008. They were eventually sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2010.
“The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) is highly concerned about the safety and security of the above listed refugees who were recently arrested by the Kenyan anti-terrorist forces; and for those who are still living in Kenya,” said a communiqué petitioning President Kenyatta to intervene.
It urges the government of Kenya to respect the international treaties and obligations, and unconditionally release the arrested refugees, and refrain from handing over to the government of Ethiopia where they would definitely face torture and maximum punishments. It also urges all human rights agencies (local, regional and international) to join the HRLHA and condemn these illegal and inhuman acts of the Kenyan Government against defenseless refugees.
HRLHA requests western countries as well as international organizations to interfere in this matter so that the safety and security of the arrested refugees and those refugees currently staying in Kenya could be ensured.
In the recent past, the rendition of Oromo refugees has been in the news. Kenyan authorities have been accused of illegal rendition of Oromo refugees to Ethiopia under the pretext of cracking down on the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) militias. While in Ethiopia, the individuals are allegedly arraigned before special courts where they are handed heavy jail sentences ranging from death to life in prison.
The fundamental objective of the Oromo liberation movement is to exercise the Oromo peoples’ right to national self-determination and end centuries of oppression and exploitation. The OLF believes the Oromo people are still being denied their fundamental rights by Ethiopian colonialism. According to Terfa Dibaba, head of the Oromo Relief Association (ORA) based in Germany, 21 Oromo refugees have been adducted in Nairobi and Moyale and illegally shipped to Addis Ababa where they have been locked in custody.
Some of the people abducted in Nairobi and Moyale and clandestinely whisked to Ethiopia and languishing in jail include: Jatani Kuuno, Liban Wario and Milki Doyo. These, ORA alleges, were abducted in a friend’s house in Moyale by Kenyans enlisted by the Ethiopia authorities and ferried in two Kenya government’s Land Rovers to Ethiopia.
Others are Dabaso Kutu, Libani Jatani and Deban Wario. They are currently on trial in Ethiopia. Impeccable source have confided that a Kenyan, Abrhim Dambi, the head of the head of Ethiopian Spy network detailed to track down political dissidents has now fled to Addis Ababa where he is hosted by the government after he was exposed.