Jonas Wood (American, b. 1977), Schindler Apts, 2013. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 132 x 112 in.
Mark Ryden : The Gay Nineties
Challenges have emerged in the growing war between Kenya and Al-Shabab. The rationale for the terrorists’ attacks is based on a Kenyan intervention mission that is critical to Somalia’s stability. This intervention will not end until Somalia is stable — a scenario unlikely in the near future. Thus, the incentive for attacks remains. The means to counter these threats is presently ineffective. Kenya’s internal security infrastructure is poorly organised, corrupt, intrusive and anti-Muslim. Deep reform is required in order to handle all of these issues.
Reform should begin by way of legislation. Counter-terrorism definitions, and the agencies charged with addressing them, need to be outlined by national law. Sometimes it takes a large-scale, tragic terrorist attack to move a country to make new laws of this nature (in France it took several). Security goals, with human rights in mind, should cautiously guide the framing of new laws — reactionary and intrusive goals made with haste should not (as in the case of the US Patriot Act). Institutionalising said laws is a greater step. With a legal framework guiding them, the judicial and executive branches need to work together in investigations.
Finally, a balance of solid counter-terrorism methodology and respect for human rights is needed, both for the effectiveness of the counter-terrorism itself, and for the legitimacy of counter-terror actions. Security and human rights are not mutually exclusive. Infringing on rights and marginalising segments of a population can even act as a catalyst in producing more terror. Isolating, harassing and profiling the large Somali minority in Kenya is fundamentally counter-productive. Other initiatives are required instead, such as increasing border security as well as the task of strengthening intelligence networking and cooperation. Intrusive Kenyan anti-terror policies are based on its heavy borrowing of US counter-terror policy. Kenya should instead focus on policies most relevant to its own specific war, rather than ones modelled with the US global war in mind. An independent, Kenya-tailored response is required for an effective fight against Al-Shabab. The Kenyan Government can better defend its people by taking a new perspective on counter-terror and moving away from unsuccessful policies.