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State opens Anti-Terror Unit

The government has made a major milestone in fighting terrorism in the country through the construction of the first ever Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) in the Coast region, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i has said.

Speaking during the commissioning of the facility in Mombasa, Matiang’i said that the facility adds to institutional capability to respond to the challenges of dealing with terrorism in the Coast region.

He said as security personnel, they are committed to respect the rule of law, the Constitution adding the Sh81 million facility has been built in line with international standards and laws. He said the suspects human rights will be highly respected.

“We respect the human rights of the suspects, we will ensure that they are held and treated within the frameworks of the human rights restriction as per the international convention that we have signed up,” said Matiang’i.

However, the CS noted that there is still more work to be done thus the need to start preparing to build a court facility alongside the ATPU unit for the arrested terrorists to be held and taken through the justice system.

“We in Kenya more than anyone else remember the challenges we have faced. From activities that go on in this region alone its evident that the threat of terrorism is not about to go away, what we do is prepare ourselves accordingly, train, equip ourselves, staff up and brace up to deal with this particular challenge. We will replicate the design of the institution in Northern and Western cities of the country to give ourselves a capability to deal with terrorism as per our population needs,” he added.

Matiang’i noted that the country over the years has acquired reliable and credible partners like the British Government that support it to counter terrorism.

He added that what the government has invested over the last ten years has seen the police capacity to deal with the threat of terrorism more than quadruple in terms of personnel, equipment they have acquired and the institutions that have been created.

“The work that is being done by police and sister institutions show that we have covered sufficient grounds but we still have some more work to do and therefore we welcome our friends from UNODC and the British Government to continue working with us as we strengthen our capacities to deal with the threat of terrorism in the country,” added Matiang’i.

On her part, British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott, said over the last years the UK has supported ATPU with various activities including trainings on terrorists financing, witness interviews, gender sensitivity as well as the delivery of an internationally accredited training of trainers programme.

Marriott noted that UK’s CT support to Kenya is wide ranging as they have worked closely with the Ministry of Interior to build the capacity of criminal justice institutions through training and mentoring.

“As our closest partner on counter terrorism in East Africa, the UK stands with Kenya in our joint fight against terrorism. The UK invests approximately Sh1.1 billion a year to support Kenya’s Counterterrorism (CT) efforts,” she said.

The building has dedicated space for different ATPU teams, investigations, evidence analysis and forensics, enabling them to work together under one roof. It also has a multi-agency room for the ATPU to invite in and to work closely with other national security bodies and international partners in a secure environment. A training room is also available to facilitate the ATPU to embed key skills across their personnel.

By Chari Suche

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