Terrorism remains a continuing challenge in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as the Al Shabaab extremist group continues with its operations in the region. Specifically, Kenya faces security threats and attacks from the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist group. The country is relentless with its counter terrorism operations while at the same time promoting a preventive approach spelt out in the National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism which recognizes the need for better engagement between communities and the police, the need to promote alternative
messages and to find means of diverting young people away from the paths of violent extremism.
Police conduct in counterterrorism and specifically, the many reports of violations of human rights in the form of arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions and extrajudicial executions remains an ongoing challenge for governance in Kenya. Many civil society groups continue to document serious violations by the police and to advocate for better respect for human rights by the police.
The counterterrorism landscape and the challenge for accountability has been further complicated by the involvement of other actors other than the police and in particular private security guards. In Kenya, the government private security guards are now regarded as part of the network of actors in the state’s counterterrorism work. This is based on the recognition that private security guards are in charge of security in many places and in particular in urban areas. However, this increased use of private security actors in countering violent extremism and their growing influence has not been matched by policy focus attention. In Kenya, policy debates on private security have predominantly focused on questions of welfare for security guards and less on the regulatory environment, capacities, and accountability.
The aim of this research is to:
1. To increase public and policy understanding of private security as part of the network of policing of counterterrorism in Kenya.
2. To increase recognition of the need to train and hold private security actors to account for human rights violations.
3. To promote policy change in the regulation and improve the accountability of all policing actors in counterterrorism, including private security actors.
4. To strengthen capacities of civil society actors to hold all policing actors in counterterrorism to account- including private security actors.
5. To increase understanding and capacity of civil society actors to engage regional and international mechanisms to promote adherence to human rights in counterterrorism.