Every year on August 30, the world observes the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, a day dedicated to raising awareness about the heart-wrenching issue of enforced disappearances. This grave violation of human rights occurs when individuals are secretly abducted, detained, and often subjected to torture or even killed, with their whereabouts concealed from their loved ones.
In Kenya, the case of Willie Kimani serves as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of enforced disappearances. As such, ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPAPED) becomes an urgent priority for the government.
Mr Kimani, a Kenyan human rights lawyer, met an unfortunate fate in June 2016. His abduction, along with his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, sent shockwaves through the nation and the international community. Their bodies were later discovered in Oldonyo Sabuk River, revealing the horrifying reality of enforced disappearances. This case highlighted the dangerous environment faced by those who advocate for justice and human rights in Kenya. It also brought to light the need for stronger legal measures and international cooperation to prevent such incidents in the future.
Kenya's commitment to human rights and justice is exemplified by its inclusion of "Kenya Kwanza" promises in its manifesto. These promises reflect the government's dedication to prioritise the well-being of its citizens and uphold the principles of human dignity. Enforced disappearances run counter to these ideals and undermine the trust between the citizens and the government. By ratifying the ICPAPED, Kenya would not only align itself with global human rights standards but also take a significant step towards ensuring justice, accountability, and the protection of its citizens.
Ratifying the Convention is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic move for Kenya. It would send a clear message to its citizens and the international community that the government is committed to addressing past wrongs and preventing future atrocities. By incorporating the Convention's principles into national law, Kenya would establish a legal framework that ensures transparency, accountability, and due process, making it harder for enforced disappearances to occur with impunity.
Additionally, ratification would enable Kenya to tap into international mechanisms for cooperation such as mutual legal assistance and extradition, which are crucial for investigating and prosecuting cross-border cases of enforced disappearances. This would foster collaboration with other countries, enhancing Kenya's global image as a responsible and just nation.
The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances serves as a reminder of the challenges that persist in Kenya and around the world. By ratifying ICPAPED, Kenya can honour its commitment to human rights, justice, and the well-being of its citizens. This step would not only align with Kenya Kwanza's promises but also set an example for other nations to follow.
Ms Nyakio is the Lead, communications and brand management at IMLU