Standing at the foot of Tom Mboya statue near Kenya National Archives in Nairobi, bereaved women told of memories of their children allegedly snatched from them by rogue police officers.
Their forlorn faces and tears rolling down their cheeks showed their disappointments in their quest for justice for their children allegedly killed in what is seen to be extrajudicial killings. Not even Valentine’s Day as reflected by red roses and other gifts could prompt them to celebrate love and life.
The 15 mothers, mostly from informal settlements of Kawangware, Mathare, Kibera and Dandora grappled with emotions as they tried to explain their reactions after receiving news regarding their children who died in the hands of law enforcers.
The numbers of youth killed or forced to disappear keep increasing, with statistics from a report released yesterday showing that 107 were killed by police in 2019 while close to 10 fell victims in January this year. The annual report by Missing Voices, a lobby group, on the state of police killings and enforced disappearances indicate that most of the killings took place mostly in informal settlements.
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A breakdown of the figures shows youth slightly above 18 years bore the biggest brunt of the killings, accounting for 73 deaths followed by younger ones who were 21, according to the 2019 statistics.
Pain and despair
According to the report, lack of accountability by police has led to only 10 arrests in the 107 cases, a matter that sent tears rolling from the eyes of women assembled at the foot of the hero’s statue.
The report singles out Eastleigh as a hotspot for ethnic profiling of the Somali community, which links police to harassment, extortion, arrest and killing of residents.
The report featured testimonies from victims who have lost their loved ones to police bullets, with the latest being the shooting of a three-year-old boy in Kasarani, Nairobi. The child was fell by a bullet from the officers who were dispersing drinkers at a changaa den. It also features the deaths of Stephen Machurusi and Hemedi Majini, who were felled by bullets in Kasarani and Majengo respectively in January. For the 15 emotional women who turned up for the launch, the statistics read by different lobby groups officials were not just numbers but a reflection of injustices inflicted by law enforcers.
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They said they know their sons will not be remembered or statues erected in their honour or streets named after them but they vowed not to be silenced as if no loss befell them. “We have graves for statues. We have tears for memories. We have orphans whose fathers were killed by security officers.
We shall never forget and we demand justice,” said Mama Victor who insisted on the name as a memory of her son’s killing by police. Mama Victor has been bearing the pain since 2007 when her son Victor was felled by a police bullet during election-related protests.The lobby group gave the women flowers as a demonstration of love on behalf of their sons who have suffered the brunt of extrajudicial killings.
“We give you flowers on behalf of your sons and daughters. We want you to remember they love you and would have wished to remember you on this special day,” said Renee Ngamau, chairperson of Amnesty International.
She added, “It should not be normal that when you are poor, you are deemed criminal and shot. We have laws on how to deal with suspects.”
The lobby groups called for implementation of the National Coroner’s Act, which calls for investigations and determination of the cause of reported unnatural deaths in the country.
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The groups also asked the government to implement the Prevention of Torture Act, which criminalises torture.
“We advocate for formation of a National Commission of Inquiry into violations by security agents, reparations of victims and families of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and a public pronouncement by Inspector General of Police and Interior CS condemning police excesses,” said Ngamau.