The Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) has demanded investigations into the recent killing of four youths in Nakuru. IMLU says the youth were killed in cold blood by police officers from Rhonda Police Station.
For months, Nakuru residents decried rising insecurity following the emergence of criminal gangs that terrorised residents at night and in broad daylight. Several killings, especially of women, were attributed to the youthful gang members.
With the situation clearly getting out of hand, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i deployed a special squad to deal with the menace. However, that did not amount to a licence to kill suspects. Two wrongs don't make a right.
Simply put, extra-judicial killing is the slaying of a person by police officers without the court's authority. It is unacceptable that police officers should kill suspects, except in self-defence under situations in which their lives are under direct threat.
IMLU, quoting eye-witnesses, says the Nakuru youths were killed in cold blood. No one disputes that the work of police officers is to deal ruthlessly with criminals, but a line must be drawn.
A suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, which is why police must never suspect unheard.
Unfortunately, cries against extra-judicial killings have continually fallen of deaf years. In 2009, UN Rapporteur Alfred Alston accused the government of being aware of such killings, but doing nothing to bring them to an end.
Human rights groups have decried the disappearance and murder of more than 300 people since 2009.
Kenya is a signatory to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. As such, it should abide by the provisions of the convention and bring the spate of disappearances and extra-judicial killings to an end.
Police officers who take up the roles of judge, jury and executioner must be dealt with firmly.