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Stop abductions and extra judicial killings

By Editorial | August 31st 2016

NAIROBI: The relevance of the International Day of the Disappeared, marked every August 30 cannot be gainsaid. On this day, attention is drawn to the excesses of the police, mainly, in abductions and killing of individuals under unclear circumstances.

There is no shortage of people who disappeared on Kenyan streets and in towns over the years, and while public outcry should have elicited government response and slowed down the rate at which ordinary Kenyans are arrested by police never to be seen again, the practice continues with an impunity unique to Kenya. Judging by the number of alleged police killings, human life is no longer sacrosanct.

Mombasa town has witnessed the bulk of disappearances and extra judicial killings, prompting protests against police excesses. Understandably, the Somali based Al Shabaab militia group is believed to have been recruiting some idle, indoctrinated Muslim youth in Mombasa, yet that is not justification enough for the police who, in the course of carrying out operations against the militias, not only abduct, but indiscriminately kill youth, most of are innocent school boys. Statistics available from human rights groups reveal that more than 300 individuals have gone missing while under police custody since 2009. This figure represents only known cases for there are many where poor families, having been intimidated by security agencies keep low profiles fearing for the safety of other family members. Kenyans cannot continue living in perpetual fear of law enforcers whose primary responsibility is to protect the lives of ordinary citizens against threats and acts of intimidation.

It is on the basis of this that calls by at least 13 human rights groups on the government to get off its laurels, form a commission of inquiry into extra judicial killings and find a permanent solution deserve public support. Kenya is a signatory to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, it should abide by it.

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