Kenya and the Netherlands have agreed to develop channels of sharing information on counter-terrorism measures meant to tame the spread of violent extremists.
Under the declaration of Intent signed on Thursday, the two countries say they are putting in place measures that will make it easier to share information, train security agents and develop common immigration policies as a way of containing terror merchants.
At a brief ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya’s Foreign Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said the deal offers the first step towards “practical ways” of fighting extremism.
“The intention is to ensure that we forge a closer relationship, we collaborate in the whole array of this threat that we all face,” Ms Mohamed told a press conference at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Nairobi.
“It is a global threat and of course there will be sharing of information, improvement of capacity and sharing of intelligence; all those are part of what is going to follow this declaration of intent,” she added.
The entry of the Dutch adds to the growing cooperation between Western countries and Nairobi to fight terror cells allied to al-Qaeda and ISIL.
Kenya, which has troops fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia, receives regular support from the US and the UK, both in terms of financial, technical, intelligence sharing and training of officers.
The US for instance gave Kenya Sh10 billion in 2015 for border security and other aspects of fighting terror.
The UK on the other hand has been offering training for Kenyan security officials and has been one of the main financiers for the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), to which the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) are a part.
Last month, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson toured Nairobi where he pledged to continue this support.
For the Netherlands, though they have not been targeted by terror groups, Mr Koenders said they would like to learn from Kenya especially since the Dutch have been a destination country for refugees fleeing terror from Somalia and from Syria.
Netherlands’ neighbours — Belgium, France and Germany — have all recently been targeted by ISIL, sometimes fuelling anti-immigrant protests.
“I think we both agree that this requires a security approach but also an approach of dealing with radicalisation, giving space to people and understanding what is happening,” he said.
The cooperation is to be handled through Kenya’s National Counter Terrorism Centre headed by Dr Martin Kimani.
On Thursday, Dr Kimani who signed the Intent for Kenya, said the document opens doors for cooperation on fighting violent extremism by sharing different experience.
“Kenya and the Netherlands are both democracies with secular constitutions and the challenge of violent extremism is not only a violence of terrorism to people’s life and property but also a challenge to constitutional order for our country,’ he said.