This report is based on a mission to Kenya and Uganda that Human Rights Watch undertook during April 2002, and prior and subsequent research. In Nairobi and Kampala interviews were conducted with one hundred and fifty refugees and asylum seekers. Sometimes refugees from a particular country of origin are well organized, and several interviews were obtained by working with these refugee networks. However, we were conscious not to leave out the views or experiences of any major sub-group within a nationality (such as people of varying economic backgrounds, ages, genders, ethnicities, or political persuasions). Therefore, in other instances, Human Rights Watch researchers sought introductions from schools, doctors, humanitarian, or faith-based organizations, or by walking around in the neighborhoods where refugees live. International NGO and U.N. agency staff and the staff of local Kenyan and Ugandan NGOs were also interviewed.
Interviews with refugees were conducted in private settings - either in the offices of a humanitarian organization, in a different neutral location, or in refugees' shelters. In one case, a Human Rights Watch researcher was able to interview an imprisoned refugee in one of Nairobi's police stations. A Human Rights Watch researcher also visited Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and conducted several interviews with refugees living there in their tents or mud-and-thatch huts.
Most of the testimonies reproduced in this report are the result of confidential in-depth interviews that lasted, on average, one to one-and-a-half hours. While we sought as much information as possible from each interview, the well-being of the interviewee was always paramount and some interviews were cut short as a result. Interviews were conducted in English or French when possible, and with the assistance of an interpreter - usually a friend or relative of the refugee - when necessary. In a few cases, particularly when a Human Rights Watch researcher was gathering information about a general subject that did not require confidentiality, such as regarding living conditions in either Nairobi or Kampala, refugees were interviewed in small groups.
Human Rights Watch researchers also made use of whatever additional evidence could be gathered to substantiate refugees' stories. Examples of such evidence include: press accounts or interviews with other refugees or officials substantiating facts; documents issued by governments and U.N., or humanitarian agencies; scars or other markings evidencing physical violence, or photographs.
In Uganda, government officials and police officers in Old Kampala police station were interviewed. In Kenya, several police officers were interviewed in the stations and jails where they work. Human Rights Watch sought meetings
with the government of Kenya to discuss its responsibility to protect urban refugees on several occasions.2 Less than twenty-four hours before our departure from the country, the government informed Human Rights Watch that a meeting would not be granted unless a U.S.$300 research permit was purchased. When a Human Rights Watch researcher refused to pay for such a permit, the interview was denied.3 A Human Rights Watch researcher also invited the government of Kenya to respond in writing to some of our concerns. To date no response has been received. A fifty-minute meeting eventually occurred between Human Rights Watch and representatives of the government of Kenya in Geneva in late September 2002.
The names of all refugees, NGO, and U.N. agency staff have been changed or withheld to protect their privacy, security, or positions.
2 Human Rights Watch sought meetings with the government of Kenya twice by fax, three times through telephone contacts and four times through in-person visits to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
3 Human Rights Watch discussion with Assistant to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Nairobi, Kenya, April 23, 2002.