Why Kenyans must all speak out against abductions by any regime

A screengrab from a CCTV footage showing a vehicle said to have been used by suspected kidnappers.

Abduction No.2. We shall number it Abduction No.2 of 2023, so that we do not confuse it with the second abductions in 2024 and 2025.

Because the appetite for abductions feeds on reception of the first ones. If there is silence on the first, more will follow. Then continuing silence will lead us into double figures in the year, and more in the next five years.

This is exactly what happened when the first political assassination of Pio Gama Pinto took place after Independence. That was 15 months after the regime had taken office. Our present abductions are taking place only 12 months after this regime took office. In 1965, silence followed. From the stunned nation, from the Churches, from the Imams, from the voluble diplomatic corps, and obviously from the surviving politicians.

As a result, more political assassinations followed: Ngala, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki. And then assassinations became a 'normal' part of Kenyan politics for 40 years: Robert Ouko, Julie Ward, Father Kaiser, Karimi Ndithi, Bishop Muge. These were only the most well-known victims. There were many others. The killings became 'normal' events because we had remained silent at the first ones. Nor should we ever forget: To assassinate secretly, they first abduct.

Therefore, Kenya cannot be silent on these abductions. And indeed, we have not been silent. The Law Society of Kenya, HAKI the human rights body, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and Amnesty International have spoken out at these and other human rights violations. We have to be louder.

The Churches and Imams must not remain silent in the face of this evil. They think they are remaining silent. But "in the face of evil, silence is support for the evil."

Abduction No.1 took place in July. Now, two months later, the regime finds it "necessary" to abduct person No.2. At this rate, in a further two months', in late November, we must expect Abduction No.3. Predictably, it will take place on days when the Head of State is out of the country. Such convenient absence in no way absolves anyone from responsibility. No 'plausible deniability' can be pleaded.

There are some level-headed people in the Cabinet and the Civil Administration. They too must not remain silent. But their efforts at correction cannot be made publicly. We understand that. Yet it is spoiling their name and their good past records. So, they must bring big pressure quietly within this regime. Because by the rule of the Cabinet's collective responsibility, they too are culpable even if they disagree with it.

They are further culpable because the Constitution's Art.239(5) provides that "The national security organs are subordinate to civilian authority." Therefore, the relevant Cabinet Secretaries, being the civilian authority over them, remain responsible and liable for illegality of these abductions. To exculpate themselves, the Principal Secretaries, and deputies, must now send memoranda to their Cabinet Secretaries recommending ceasing these abductions and other breaches, to show later commissions, inquiries and courts, that they objected. So far, this regime is not serious about the Rule of Law.

In addition, the country is realising that these abductions are futile exercises. From information from reliable sources, the main interrogation of the abductee last week was not about any crime but about what was going on in Aaimio, a political party and cause.

This would be in the interest of Kenya Kwanza to learn and to their advantage. This type of questioning was illegal. Whether the National Security organs are wearing their uniforms or their newly issued hoods, they are still captured by the Constitution. This is what Article 239(3) commands ('shall not'):

"239.(3): In performing their functions and exercising their powers, the national security organs and every member of the national security organs shall not -

(a) Act in a partisan manner;

(b) Further any interest of a political party or cause; or

(c) Prejudice a political interest or political cause that is legitimate under this Constitution.

  1. This abduction and interrogation were prejudicial to the political interest of Azimio, a political cause legitimate under this Constitution. 2. The abduction and interrogation were furthering the interest of another political party and cause, Kenya Kwanza. And 3. The security organ and each member was acting in a partisan manner.

This provision is there because the Constitution is not only the manifesto of the people; the Constitution is also the shield of the people.

The writer is senior counsel