Download the latest Cageprisoners report regarding the targetting and profiling of people from or travelling to the Horn of Africa. Based on cases collected by Cageprisoners researchers, this report points to worrying developments in the War on Terror.
A consequence of the War on Terror (whether intended or not) has been the dramatic increase in xenophobia and racism against those considered to be Muslim in their origin. The use of profiling as a technique has found widespread implementation in domestic policies as government agencies seek to expose plots of international terrorism.
Immediately after 9/11, it was those with origins in the Middle East or Indian sub-continent that were detained for the most part due to profiles that international security experts considered to be involved with ‘Islamist’ violence. Over the years the focus of the profile changed according to circumstances – British born Pakistanis were particularly targeted after the 7/7 bombings.
The climate of profiling was exacerbated by statements from the former British Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears, and also the former Chief of British Transport Police, Ian Johnston – both unreservedly declared that people of a “particular description” would be profiled by the police. This policy was mimicked in the US when in 2007, the secretary for US homeland security, Michael Chertoff, called for travel restrictions to be placed on British citizens who had descent from Pakistan –the alleged personification of the terrorist profile.
Since 2007, a new profile has emerged, that of Muslims who are from, or linked to the Horn of Africa. Although the US had already sent the Joint Task Force for the Horn of Africa to be stationed at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, in 2003, operations to counter suspected terrorism in the region only really began with the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia at the end of December 2006.
The Ethiopian-Somali conflict much like the US-Afghan one became one of the main fronts of the War on Terror. The result of the conflict was that witnessing of policies and procedures lifted directly from US operations in Afghanistan. The use of secret detention, abuse, rendition flights and use of the term “enemy combatant” were all implemented in dealing with terrorist suspects. The result of the Ethiopian action was very similar to what took place un-der US actions, the widespread abuse of men, women and children who had been unlawfully detained.
Like elsewhere in the War on Terror, abuses of human rights were not limited to the arena of conflict, but rather manifested and continue to manifest themselves in different ways. For some, the identity of being Somali has become enough to be watched, while for other, merely wishing to travel to the Horn of Africa lends itself to suspicion. Also the mechanisms by which individuals are abused or intimidated vary greatly, whether it be through the security services disguising themselves as postmen or by detaining an entire people due to their ethnicity.
The Horn of Africa Inquisition is the latest report by Cageprisoners to highlight the way in which the War on Terror has impacted profiled com-munities. Based on the testimonies of those who have been affected, the report seeks to provide an overview of the way in which the War on Terror has criminalised those from or even associated with the Horn of Africa.