Rapes, other new allegations in Kenya’s election unrest

Agnes Odhiambo, Senior Women's Rights Researcher of NGO Human Rights Watch Kenya speaks during a press conference for their report "Kenya: Sexual violence in 2017 elections" in Nairobi, Kenya, on Dec. 14, 2017. Kenyan security forces raped, beat and assaulted civilians during violence in recent elections, Human Rights Watch said. (AFP)
Updated 15 December 2017
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Rapes, other new allegations in Kenya’s election unrest

KAMPALA: Kenya’s opposition leader was targeted in a virulent online campaign created by a US-based company during the recent election turmoil, a privacy watchdog said Thursday, while another rights group reported multiple gang-rapes by men in uniform in opposition strongholds.
The reports highlight the volatility of the months during which the Supreme Court nullified the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ordered a new vote that opposition leader Raila Odinga boycotted and Kenyatta won. Anger remains high among Odinga supporters; scores were killed in clashes with security forces.
The data-driven social media campaigns allegedly created by Texas-based Harris Media contributed to one of the most divisive votes in the East African nation’s history, the London-based Privacy International said. One campaign attacked Odinga and the other praised Kenyatta, both on behalf of the president’s re-election campaign.
The campaign against Odinga included a claim that he would “remove whole tribes” if elected, the report said. Voting in Kenya is often along ethnic lines, and previous elections have led to deadly violence.
The social media campaigns “relied on ad words in Google search and apparently targeted advertising on a range of social media platforms,” the report said. “This raises serious concerns about the role and responsibility of companies working for political campaigns in Kenya’s volatile political climate ... It also highlights the risks inherent to voter profiling and micro-targeting in a country with no data protection laws.”
The report does not allege any crime was committed. Harris Media did not claim responsibility for the campaigns, the report said. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The separate report by Human Rights Watch described rapes of men and women and cited victims and witnesses in the slums of the capital, Nairobi, and the opposition strongholds of Kisumu and Bungoma.
“Some were raped in the presence of family members, including young children,” the report said. “Most women said they were raped by policemen or men in uniform, many of whom carried guns, batons, tear gas canisters, whips, and wore helmets and other anti-riot gear.”
In at least one case a girl died after being raped, said Human Rights Watch, which accused Kenya’s government of often ignoring election-related sexual violence.
Kenya’s police chief Joseph Boinnet rejected the allegations in the report as “utter falsehoods” and challenged Human Rights Watch to produce evidence.


6 shot on street near north Florida stadium before NFL game

Updated 54 min 19 sec ago
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6 shot on street near north Florida stadium before NFL game

  • Police reported no link to the game, which went on without incident

JACKSONVILLE, Florida: Six people have been wounded in a street shooting blocks from the Florida stadium where the NFL’s Houston Texans played and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
Ron Lendvay, director of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, said several shots rang out about 12:35 p.m. Sunday on a boulevard in the stadium’s general area and that five men and one woman were hit by gunfire. All were rushed to hospitals, and the sheriff’s office tweeted that three of the victims were in critical condition. The victims ranged in age from their 20s to the 70s, according to Lendvay.
The shooting broke out before the scheduled 1 p.m. start of play. Lendvay reported no link to the game, which went on without incident, and said investigators were investigating whether it was gang-related.
The Texans won their fourth consecutive game Sunday, defeating the Jaguars 20-7 to take a one-game lead in the AFC South at the stadium, TIAA Bank Field.
Local media reports cited authorities as saying the shooting had had no impact on game day activities though some fans headed to the game reported hearing the gunfire.
Lendvay told reporters that a shooter fired from the passenger side of a gray, four-door sedan driven by a companion and that the victims were hit outside on the sidewalk near a laundromat. He said the car immediately drove off and that detectives had been checking surveillance video in hopes of identifying the vehicle and those involved.
“There were at least two people in the car,” Lendvay said. He added that investigators didn’t know if any others were in the car and he didn’t rule out the possibility of other shooters elsewhere.
“This may be gang-related based on information obtained in the early stages of the investigation,” he told reporters Sunday, declining to elaborate.
Some fans told local broadcast outlet New4Jax that they heard shots as they headed to the stadium.
“We had just parked our cars,” Vanessa Holmes told the new outlet, adding she and some family members were walking when it happened. “We heard the shots. We didn’t know if we should fall to the ground. We didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Others told the broadcast outlet that they saw people running out of the coin laundry business when the shots were fired.
Some said it was a series of shots.
“We were over there talking and suddenly, it was like ten gunshots. We ran and went for cover and then I saw the police, and people were crowding down there,” a woman identified as Yvonne Lee told News4Jax.
An update on the conditions of the wounded wasn’t immediately available late Sunday and they were not identified by name.
“A couple of them were in very serious condition on their arrival at the hospital,” Lendvay said. He added that five of the wounded were rushed by paramedics for emergency care and the sixth by private vehicle.
He said authorities have been unable to immediately determine whether there was any relationship among the wounded, noting none could be immediately interviewed though authorities hoped to do so later.
“It’s hard to say if they are all associated or not,” he added.
Lendvay spoke near the scene Sunday afternoon even as the game was in progress, saying investigators had cordoned off the area but fans who had cars parked in the area could expect an escort to their vehicles so they could leave unhindered after play was over.
Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, who represents the district where the shooting occurred, told local media he was aware of crime problems in the neighborhood and urged a greater law enforcement presence there.
“In talking to the sheriff’s department; they are going to beef up patrols ...We have a crime issue,” Gaffney said. “Every other week and every other month out there, it’s too much.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott also said in a statement that he had reached out to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, offering any state resources that the city may need.