Enforce rule of law to end extrajudicial killings

For a country that has had a horrendous history of extrajudicial killings, the recent incidents in Nairobi’s lawless Mathare slums should be of concern to all.

Some innocent people have been executed on suspicion of wrongdoing instead of being taken through due process to establish their guilt or innocence.

The issues of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances have always been of grave concern. It will be recalled that within the first month of assuming office last September, President William Ruto ordered the disbanding of a special police unit over a wave of killings and enforced disappearances. But the grave racket continues. 

In a country that cherishes the rule of law, a few people, just because they happen to be employed in law-enforcement agencies, cannot become the judge, the jury and the executioner. This should not happen in our civilised society with an elaborate and tested judicial system.

Today, eight men are fearing for their lives in Mathare after being accused of being members of a notorious gang. This has left them at the mercy of self-styled social media crime busters believed to be police officers. The profiles of the suspects are often shared on social media for allegedly perpetrating a spate of crime in the neighbourhood. Some have been found murdered. 

The eight, who have been linked to a notorious gang said to be operating in the sub-county, claim to be members of a legitimate organisation. Some admit that they have had criminal records but have since reformed. 

The local section of Amnesty International has also queried the Facebook posts allegedly made by police officers vowing to “hunt down and neutralise” criminal suspects. The human rights organisation says the execution of suspects is not only illegal but is also a horrible crime in itself. The rights of all people, including criminal suspects, must be protected.

Every suspect should be tried in court and if found guilty, given due punishment as prescribed in the penal code. It is commendable that the government has declared that it will not allow the law of the jungle to reign. 

The killing of suspects by shadowy characters believed to be police officers must be stopped and the culprits pursued and punished.