Boniface gave a blow-by-blow account of their visit to Yala Sub County Hospital mortuary where they counted more than twenty decomposing bodies waiting to be disposed of as unclaimed. They also interviewed a witness, Okero Kite who informed them that he had retrieved 31 bodies from River Yala since July last year. But the revelation left many key questions unanswered.
Who was behind the killings, and why? While the state distanced itself from the murders, rights activist and Kenyans have blamed law enforcement agencies for the enforced disappearances of people in the country. The River Yala incident is one of the many cases of disappearances that remains unresolved. Missing Voices, a consortium of fifteen Civil society organizations have come out with a report indicating that there are many such incidences spread across the country than initially thought. In 2021 alone, the human rights bodies documented 219 cases of police killings and enforced disappearances.
“Out of these, 187 cases were of police killings, and 32 of enforced disappearances. Of the 32 cases of enforced disappearances, two of the victims were later found alive after campaigns by civil society organizations,” Missing Voices said. Originally, there were 36 cases of enforced disappearances; four of these were found dead more than 24 hours after disappearing in police custody, two were returned alive and 30 remain missing. According to the Missing Voices, 219 cases of police killings and enforced disappearances resulted from 161 separate incidents. They singled out the Pangani Police Station of the infamous Pangani six as the station with the highest number of police killings in Kenya.
The civil society groups documented 30 cases of police killings that are reportedly associated with Pangani Police Station. “In 2021, every month, with the exception of June, officers from Pangani are accused of murder. For the last three years, during which Missing Voices has actively tracked the data, police have killed more than 500 people,” the report said. In 2019, Missing Voice documented 145 cases of police killings.
168 people were killed or disappeared in police custody in 2020. Missing Voices said that its team spoke to survivors who lost their kin to police killings and are in the process of seeking justice in court adding that all of their cases were taken back to the inquest stage because of what they termed “lack of evidence”, despite the fact that they had witness statements, post-mortem reports and the police officers were identified.
“All of the accused officers continued operating in the same communities and used unlawful tactics to throw out or weaken the cases.
They threatened witnesses and intimidated families – in Stella’s case, one of the witnesses was killed. None of the mothers could articulate why their cases were taken back to the inquest stage and seeking answers from officials proved fruitless,” they said. The group decried the slow dispensation of justice by the criminal justice system despite increased arrests police officers involved in such killings.
All of the accused officers continued operating in the same communities and used unlawful tactics to throw out or weaken the cases. They argued that a gap within the law or its application has a significant bearing on the outcomes of such case’s outcome. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE