The extra-judicial transfer of two Kenyan nationals from Nairobi to Kampala last week shows that rendition is here to stay for East Africans.
Hassan Agade and Christopher Magondu were arrested in Kenya last week. On the eve of a habeas hearing challenging their detention in a Kenyan court, the men were flown with no process to Uganda, where they have been charged with 97 offences related to last month's bombings in Kampala.
Kenya's practise of rendition dates from at least 1976, and accelerated in the years following 9/11, when Kenya became the leading regional ally of the US in its global rendition programme.
Kenyan government personnel have been directly involved in the rendition of hundreds of individuals of over twenty nationalities, including women and children. Destinations for the victims have included US prisons in Afghanistan, Djibouti, and proxy detention in Ethiopia. The Kenyan government is facing a glut of civil suits for its involvement in the practise, and has been condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture and rights groups worldwide.
Whilst the rendition of two men to face charges in Uganda may seem like an improvement when compared to the worst excesses of the past decade, it is not. The Kenyan authorities' blatant disregard for legal process betrays an increasingly concrete two-tier legal system in the region. Those simply accused of "terrorist" offences may be given little or no process from the get-go. They are routinely transferred with no process across international borders, and held in lengthy detention making them vulnerable to abuse.
It has been well publicised that western powers including the US and the UK have been lending their expertise to regional states in the recent Uganda bombings investigations. These same states have significant traction on the issue of preserving international standards in national security operations, because of their vast in-pouring of resources to fund "counter-terror" capacity in the region.
In truth, ignoring process to forcibly transfer Kenyan nationals to a country with as bad a human rights record as Uganda, is effectively a "transfer to torture". The continued practise of rendition in these regional counter-terror operations, with the tacit approval of more powerful states, suggests that the worst practises of the Bush-era may not have not stopped, but rather just exported to Africa.