The number of youths joining terror groups among them the Somali based Al-Shabaab has reduced significantly in the recent past. This is according to the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).
Speaking to the press at the sidelines of a three days’ workshop on human rights based and non-violence approaches in countering violent extremism in the country, KNCHR CEO Dr. Benard Mogesa said that the number of families complaining of missing kin has gone down.
The workshop whose main objective is to develop and understand collaborative efforts towards countering violent extremism and terrorism in the country brought together sub-county security committees, religious leaders, women, youth and civil society organizations.
Mogesa urged the government to put in measures to ensure that the youth are regularly engaged noting that idleness was the biggest drive for youths to join terror groups.
He however regretted that stigmatization of the returnees by the community who view them as a threat and people who cannot be changed into better citizens.
“There is need for integration and inculcation of values in their lives that will make them feel loved and appreciated by the community irrespective of their status,” Mogessa said.
There has been growing concern by relatives whose kin have voluntarily returned and surrendered to the police only for the them to disappear and found murdered by unknown persons.
Majority of these disappearances are in North Eastern and the coast regions with an accusing finger being pointed at the security agencies involved in the fight against terrorism.
The CEO said the government has an obligation to protect, respect and fulfill human rights.
“As a nation we need to account for all our citizens. Even if it is one person who has disappeared let us know where they have gone and ensure that we re-integrate them into the society,” he said.
“For those who have not returned we want to tell them that this is your country and we all need a peaceful country that can thrive and be counted among the nations in the world that are prospering economically,” he added.
On his part Bonaventure Chengeek , the programme coordinator ACT Kenya that works on issues around counter terrorism said they are building the support and resilience by bringing in stakeholders to communities, CBOs and civil society organization to address the issues.
Chengeek said they are partnering with the county government, ministry of education and religious based institutions such as madrasas to ensure teenagers are able to understand issues around violent extremism.