Amnesty for returnee Al shabaab militants hot topic at Counter Terrorism Conference

The dilemma of how to deal with militants who have returned home was a heated topic on Thursday afternoon at the start of a regional conference on countering violent extremism that is being held in Nairobi.

Although countries like Kenya offer an amnesty to former Al Shabaab fighters who have surrendered to the government, some countries argued that a country should not show mercy to individuals who have participated in mass murder.

“There is no way that someone participates in the mass killings of other people and yet expects to be shown mercy. This could be the wrong way to fight terror,” representatives of Egypt attending the event that is being held at KICC said.

Various speakers said that the extremists “must be brought to justice.”

Rashid Abdi, a security expert, told the gathering that Kenya faced great difficulties of dealing with returnee militants.

“This matter is worsened by the fact that the high number of terror acts in the country are being conducted by Kenyans,” he said.

Hussein Dado, the governor of Tana River County, praised the country for extending an amnesty to returnees.

Prof Rohan Gunaratna from Singapore warned that if returnee militants are not rehabilitated they might end up being a security threat and influence other innocent minds to join violent extremism.

The Regional Conference on Countering Violent Extremism that started on Thursday morning is scheduled to end on Sunday June 28.

Kenya has invited ministers of security from over 30 countries, international security experts and scholars on terrorism and violent extremisms, civil society groups, faith based organisations, private sector and community leaders to the event.

Outcomes from the event will input into the Summit-level deliberations to be held on the side-lines of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2015.

The conference was opened by Deputy President William Ruto.