The alleged involvement of security officers in the death of Dennis Lusava in Likuyani, Kakamega County, should worry every law-abiding Kenyan. Lusava is reported to have gotten into a scuffle with police on patrol for allegedly not wearing a mask. He was arrested, freed, then found dead in a river.
His story is not isolated and falls among many mysterious deaths linked to brutal force by the police. While investigations are ongoing, fact is the problem of extrajudicial killings has been with us for eons.
While Kenya has made strides along many fronts, including the enactment of a progressive 2010 Constitution, it is saddening that blatant disregard for basic rights and the sanctity of human life continues.
A February 2020 report by a coalition of local human rights groups, says police killed 107 people last year. Most victims were young men from slum areas. According to Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), 160 cases of police killings were referred to it in 2019 alone.
Last year, a report by Human Rights Watch documented 34 cases of forced disappearances and 11 cases of extra-judicial killings. This is a serious indictment on our security agencies. While the good work of most officers speak for itself, we condemn the excesses witnessed among few rotten apples in the force.
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When the State introduced restrictions to control the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, some officers ran a mock, beating and wounding Kenyans, including children, found outside curfew hours. In the aftermath of the sham 2017 polls, there were several deaths, including that of Baby Pendo, blamed on police officers.
Suspects should not be killed. They should be arrested and prosecuted. Granted, every suspect is innocent until proven guilty.
We call on authorities to rein in indisciplined officers. Letting them go unpunished will only aggravate the problem. Senior officers under whose direct chain of command atrocities occur, should be fully held to account. The rule of law should bind all of us, not just the police alone. Civilians should learn to co-operate. Good citizens have the civil duty to obey the law because it’s the same law that protects all of us.
Let IPOA and investigative agencies spare no effort in unravelling the unexplained deaths, the Likuyani one included. Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.