Coast leads in cases of enforced disappearances

The family of Yassir Mahmoud Ahmed, 43, led by their father, Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir (centre and in white T-shirt) and sister, Nadia Mahmoud Ahmed during press briefing at their home in Mtamuini, Lamu Town. They are pleading with the state to help them trace Yasir who was abducted by unknown people at Mkunumbi on the Lamu-Witu-Garsen road on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Photo credit: Kalume Kazungu I Nation Media Group.

The Coast region leads in the number of persons who have either been killed or mysteriously disappeared at the hands of suspected security agencies.

This is according to Haki Africa, a human rights organisation based in Mombasa working to improve livelihoods and respect for human rights in Kenya.

Speaking on Monday during the marking of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid noted that a total of 26 people had gone missing, mostly at the hands of police.

The disappearances are said to have occurred between January and August this year.

Of the 26 people, 21 are from the Coast while five are from Nairobi.

Kwale County led with 10 cases while Mombasa was second with six cases.

Lamu County came third with five cases.

Mr Khalid said his organisation suspects that the people who disappeared could have been taken and killed by security agencies in their pursuit of terrorists.

Taimur Kariuki Hussein. He was arrested by ATPU officers near Lamu on June 11, 2021 but later disappeared and since then, family is agonizing over his whereabouts.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group.

He called on Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Police Inspector-General Hillary Mutyambai to explain the fate of the 26 people, saying they should have been protected by the same security agencies.

He urged human rights groups in Kenya and the rest of the world to exert pressure on governments regarding enforced disappearances and ensure victims and their families get justice.

Haki Africa, he said, had been approached by families of victims of enforced disappearances seeking assistance to find their relatives.

He said the 26 are examples of how security forces use extra-legal means to unfairly and unconstitutionally hold suspects.

“Haki Africa is deeply worried by the increasing cases of enforced disappearances in the country. It is clear the government is either unwilling or unable to address the problem,” he said.

“To that end, we as the grassroots human rights organisations are calling on the international community to intervene and come to the aid of Kenyans.”

He said last year Haki Africa recorded 18 disappearances.

“So far in 2021, we have recorded 26. This shows an increase even before the year has ended. I therefore call on CS Matiang'i and IG Mutyambai to urgently intervene and ensure victims and their families get justice,” he said.

“Police must follow the law and court decisions. Kenya is not a police state and all, including police, must work within the confines of the law.”

The wife of Yasir, Yumna Aliduring interview after the prayer. She beseeched the government to bring back her husband.

Photo credit: Klaume Kazungu I Nation Media Group

Meanwhile, families in Lamu agonising over their missing relatives have appealed to the State to help in efforts to find them.

In Mtamuini, the family of Yasir Mahmoud Ahmed, 43, is living with unanswered questions concerning his whereabouts. Mr Ahmed was abducted by people believed to be security agents at Mkunumbi on the Lamu-Witu-Garsen road on June 19 this year.

His father, Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir, a religious leader popularly known as Ustadh Mau, says they are pinning their hopes on the government to tell them where Mr Ahmed is.

“My son was a peace-loving citizen. I am yet to understand where he was taken after the abduction. We haven’t lost hope as a family. We have done our part, including recording statements with the police, searching in mortuaries and praying in mosques,” he said.

“If the state has my son and they feel he is on the wrong side of the law, let them present him in court to face charges. If he is innocent, then they should free him because their action is creating fear and uncertainty for my family and friends here.”

The family of 43-year-old Mohamed Avukame Haroun is also yet to come to terms with his mysterious disappearance on August 23, 2017.

Mr Haroun, a Malindi-based businessman who also dealt in property management and land, was taken away by men in a black Toyota Prado to an unknown destination.

The father of two was bundled into the vehicle by two armed men who accosted him in the Mombasa High Court.

“We are also praying that the government will reveal the whereabouts of my brother. We are stressed by his absence,” said Bwanaheri Avukame Haroun.

Also missing is 35-year-old Osman Abdi, who was a milk vendor in Mpeketoni. His family is still looking for him.

He was arrested by police in July 2014 and was never seen again.

The family of Makka Mzee is also in the dark for the past seven years after their son, Imrana Said Makka, 29, was abducted by three men, who identified themselves as anti-terror police officers, on March 31, 2015 in Malindi.

Taimur Kariuki Hussein, 39, holding a baby. He was arrested by ATPU officers near Lamu on June 11, 2021 but later disappeared and since then, family is agonizing over his whereabouts.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group.

In Kwasasi village in Hindi, Lamu West, the family of 42-year-old Ali Bunu is also yet to come to terms with his mysterious disappearance six years ago.

The father of nine, who owned an estate in the village, was said to have been picked up at his farm by unknown people in State-owned police and military vehicles on the night of April 8, 2016.

In Witu, another family is in agony over the disappearance of 32-year-old Mohamed Abdalla Ali.

Mr Ali went missing on the night of June 14, 2018.

“As Kenya joins the rest of the world in marking International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances, I hope the State will come clear and explain where my brother Mohamed is,” said his sister Amina Abdallah.

The family of Taimur Kariuki Hussein also wants the State to help them find him.

Mr Hussein was arrested by ATPU officers while on his way to Lamu on June 11 this year, never to be seen again.

“We’re using all means to ensure our brother is brought back. In fact, we are suing the ATPU to have my brother Taimur brought back alive or dead,” said his sister Fauziya Hussein.

The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances is marked each year on August 30 in recognition of the challenges that victims face and celebrate their victories in achieving justice.

Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said the cases of missing persons with the county are under investigations by security agencies and urged affected families to be patient.

He said the government will not relent in its effort in ensuring missing Kenyans are traced wherever they are.

"Efforts to trace those Kenyans are on but all in all, we still urge families to practise timely reporting once their kinsmen go missing for prompt action to locate them, " said Mr Macharia.

"The government cannot  respond to what it has no idea about,” Coast Regional Coordinator John Elungata said when asked about the enforced disappearance in the region. 

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