Police killings: We want justice for our slain relatives

Haki Africa boss Hussein Khalid leads Mombasa residents in protests against forced disappearances on August 30, 2018. [File,Standard]

Christie Madiga is seeking justice for the death of her son publicly executed by a police officer in Kawangware six years ago.

Madiga recalls sending 22-year-old Hastings Agesa to take rent to their landlord. Her son met with a crowd and saw bodies of suspected robbers killed in a mob justice attack. Police officers had arrived to collect the bodies.

“The officers got hold of my son who called me to tell me what was going on. I hurried there,” she recalls. But before she got to the scene, she received a call to inform her that her son had been shot dead. She arrived to find Agesa lifeless.

“I wanted to find out why they killed my son. There has never been a day I got calls from authorities on my son’s wrongdoing. Everyone agreed that my son was a well-behaved boy,” Madiga says.

She is among the 200 families of victims of alleged police executions. She was present at Nairobi National Museum for an exhibition that commemorated the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances last week.

The photographic exhibition, ‘Your Silence Kills’, sought to provoke the public to speak up against police killings.

Madiga has taken the case to court with the help from Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU).

“My way of raising our voices is by seeking justice. I have to accept that my son is gone, there is nothing I can do to change that. But there should not be any more killings. The injustices have to end,” she says.

The exhibition was presented by Missing Voices, a group of organisations whose mission is to end enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. The photographs displayed told the testimonies of the families of victims of these atrocities.

Crime levels

It also covered the pleas of reformed robbers who escaped death for the police to focus on rehabilitating them instead of gunning them down. It remembered those who followed up on cases of police killings and ended up being victims, such as human rights lawyer Willie Kimani.

Amnesty International Kenya Director Irungu Houghton advises the public to speak up against injustice.

“There has been silence on people killed because they are poor, unemployed or living in an area where the level of crime is high. If you fail to speak up, someone somewhere is being killed. It does not have to happen to someone close to you to act,” says Irungu.

He urges the government to ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and operationalise the National Coroners Services Act and Prevention of Torture Act to equip independent bodies to investigate cases of deaths. Irungu also calls for protection of witnesses.

“The Judiciary also needs to speed up cases involving police officers. An accused police officer should not be patrolling in any area, especially where he is alleged to have committed a crime. It traumatises the victims, scares witnesses and ultimately escalates the culture of impunity,” he says.

Missing Voices has a record of about 540 missing persons for a period of 12 years. It has also documented 71 cases of suspected enforced disappearances and extra-judicial executions since January.

Missing Voices held several activities in areas where these atrocities are most committed – Kayole, Kibra and Dandora.

The organisations that make up Missing Voices include Amnesty International Kenya, International Justice Mission, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Heinrich Boll Foundation, Independent Medico Legal Unit, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya and Social Justice Centres.