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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The goal of the Kenya Defence Force’s (KDF) 2011 Operation Linda Nchi (Operation Protect the Country) was to dismantle al-Shabaab in Somalia. In retaliation, al-Shabaab made Kenya and Kenyans their primary targets through a series of attacks on government installations and civilian sites. These events coincided with police reforms undertaken following the country’s 2007/2008 post-election violence and the inauguration of a new Constitution in 2010. While these reforms sought to increase accountability, the police response to al-Shabaab undermined the reform agenda as the police continued to commit egregious human rights violations. These abuses went hand-in-hand with a loosening of legal safeguards against police violations, which further derailed the police reform project. At the same time, al-Shabaab exploited the security agencies’ human rights violations as recruitment propaganda. Thus, while Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia is expected to end after the African Union Mission in Somalia winds down in 2019, it will likely negatively impact the police reform trajectory.

Keywords: police, reform, al-Shabaab, Somalia, counter-terrorism, countering violence extremism, post-election violence

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