The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has raised a red flag over the rampant cases of extrajudicial executions, abductions and enforced disappearances in the country.
While addressing the media yesterday during the release of an annual report on the State of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Kenya, KNHCR chairperson Roseline Odede said between January 2022 to June 2023, the commission recorded 22 cases of extrajudicial killings and 9 cases of enforced disappearance, all allegedly perpetrated by security agencies.
The majority of the victims were youth aged between 18 to 35 years.
Further, the commission called for ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
KNCHR said the move is essential to address existing gaps that have hindered justice for victims and their families.
The KNCHR chairperson expressed additional concern over what she described as a resurgence of abductions allegedly committed by members of the National Police Service.
She highlighted the abductions of businessman Jaswant Singh Rai in broad daylight in the Kilimani area of Nairobi and the capture of South Sudanese refugee Morris Mabior Awikjok Bak in February, who was reported missing after being allegedly abducted by “armed men wearing police uniform” from his home along Kangundo Road in Nairobi.
The alleged abduction of Osman Khalif, an aide to the Nairobi county governor by 10 armed individuals on November 10, was also mentioned.
“While the National Police Service has been implicated in these cases, no formal statement of confirmation or denial has been issued by the Inspector General of Police.” She noted.
Odede expressed deep concern over what it described as arbitrary killings and cases of enforced disappearance, noting the trend continues to violate and jeopardize the right to life.
She stressed that “the right to life is sacrosanct and one that needs to be respected by all persons. Where it happens, thorough and conclusive investigations need to be carried out.” Odede said.
The commission call for full operationalisation of the National Coroners Service to support investigations into deaths caused by violent criminal acts, extrajudicial killings, or deaths in custody.
The report showed that some cases are perpetrated by security agencies and, in some cases, the involvement of non-state actors including bandits, in the deaths and disappearances.
In March this year, the commission conducted a fact-finding mission in Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Baringo counties amid enhanced security operations against banditry.
In Kerio Valley alone, at least 40 people were alleged to have been killed from January 2022 to March 2023.
“Seven people, including two healthcare workers, were killed in a span of four days in Marakwet East.” Odede said.
“In March 2023, in what appeared to be coordinated attacks, bandits killed several people in Marakwet, Baringo, and Turkana counties and drove away an unknown number of livestock.” She noted.
Odede further revealed that during political demonstrations between March and July 2023, the commission recorded a total of 24 fatalities.
The demonstrations, which resumed on July 7, 2023, during ‘Saba Saba’ day, led to a further loss of seven lives.
Further protests called for by the Opposition on July 12, 2023, resulted in the deaths of at least nine people.
“The commission reiterates that the right to life is sacrosanct and must be respected by all persons.” She observed.