What you need to know:
- Latest report shows there were 43 cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in 2021, the worst ever.
- Haki Africa, a human rights organisation based in Mombasa, said Coast leads with the highest number of such cases, at 29.
There were more cases of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances in Kenya this year than any other period in history, the Nation has learnt.
Police have over the decades acquired a dubious distinction of being a source of insecurity due to their trigger-happy officers. Latest report shows there were 43 cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in 2021, the worst ever.
Haki Africa, a human rights organisation based in Mombasa, said Coast leads with the highest number of such cases, at 29. The report shows most of the victims disappeared shortly after being arrested.
Mombasa County has 17, followed by Kwale at nine, Nairobi (seven), Kajiado (four), Lamu (three) while Wajir, Nyeri, and Kiambu had a case each.
Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid challenged the government to ratify the international convention against enforced disappearances and adopt laws to outlaw such activities in Kenya.
He said there’s complacency by security agencies when it comes to investigating disappearances, leading many to believe that they are involved in the same.
“It’s disappointing that this year has recorded the highest number of disappearances ever, indicating a worsening situation with the police doing little to address the problem. We have engaged Interior CS Fred Matiang’I, who committed to come to Coast to listen to the victims,” said Mr Khalid.
“We are also working with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to adopt a continental guideline on dealing with disappearances. This guideline will then be shared with countries to adopt, including Kenya.”
The organisation blamed security agencies for failure to equip their officers with modern equipment for surveillance.
“The enforced disappearances emanate from the pressure that security agencies are expected to deliver but without technical experience and necessary equipment for surveillance. Due to such scenarios, our officers are unable to collect the necessary evidence to succeed with conviction in court. So, they resort to disappearances,” said Mr Khalid.
He said such behaviour pushes communities away from security authorities at a time when they need to work together to fight crime and violent extremism.
Muslim Clerics and elders in Lamu Old Town at the weekend held special prayers (Dua) for the safe return of those who mysteriously disappeared.
Coast Inter-Faith Council of Clerics (CICC) chair, Mohamed Abdulkadir, who led the special prayers at Mkunguni Square, accused state agencies of failure to follow the constitution by arresting and holding people against their will. In most cases, they deny the arrests ever took place.
“We want to hear what the government has to say about the cases of those who disappeared mysteriously in the hands of state agencies. The constitution demands that if somebody is in the wrong, they be presented to court instead of hiding them just like that. We appeal to the government to produce our people,” said Mr Abdulkadir.
Sheikh Uthuman Khatib urged for a stop of news coverage that explicitly links Islam to terrorism as that might trigger fears in both Muslim and non-Muslim individuals.
“Islam is about peace. The stereotype that Muslims are the ones linked to terrorism is uncalled for. It creates a hostile perception and attitude towards Muslims in general,” said Mr Khatib.