The Missing Voices Coalition of 16 civil rights groups whose mission is to end disappearances and killings in Kenya met with the mothers of victims and other victims of police abuse in Nairobi on Sunday. The Coalition also published a book on the subject, They Were Us. The coalition said it had documented 119 police killings and 23 enforced disappearances between January and September 2021. The police have denied the charges.
The son of 48-year-old Lillian Njeri and two others were killed in May 2018, allegedly by police in the Kiamaiko area of Nairobi.
“After killing my son, I wanted to commit suicide. My other son asked me who would take care of him if I killed myself. I drank a lot. Since joining a women’s network whose children have been killed, it has helped me heal and protect others, ”she said.
The mother of two said she reported this to the Independent Police Oversight Authority, or IPOA, a body charged with overseeing police work. The IPOA advised Njeri to refer the case to two other victims in the hope of supporting the investigation and obtaining a conviction. However, Njeri says he is still looking for one of the mothers.
In September in Nairobi, five officers were charged with murder in connection with the death of a man killed in September 2018. The man was arrested for possession of illegal alcohol, and IPOA investigators concluded that he died from multiple blunt trauma. The court ruled to detain the officers involved in the case until December 6.
Last month, IPOA Chair Anne Makori told Kenyan editors that the court is considering 98 cases of police abuse of the population. Eight police officers have been convicted since 2010, according to the IPOA.
The Missing Voices Consortium, a group investigating unlawful killings, said 167 people were killed or went missing in 2020, and 157 of those deaths were from police killings.
Kenya police spokesman Bruno Shioso considers these accusations unfounded.
“It is wrong to say that the police killed young people because we do not have this data, this information. These are wild accusations, but when you tell them to present evidence or something tangible, no one will come. So it’s very difficult for us to react to something without any evidence. But we tell people, if they are sure that the police are involved in any criminal enterprise, let them come forward, let them make us an official report, and we will take it from there, if they cannot come to us, they can turn to the supervision of the authorities. “, – he said.
Eileen Wanjiku is working with Missing Voices, organizer of the book’s Sunday presentation, shedding light on the stories of police victims. She told Voice of America that most families have yet to see justice for the deaths of their loved ones.
“There is a challenge and a problem even with an investigation, just pushing it to court is a problem, and when we get to court, there is a delay in justice … So, the reason why many of these cases have not been investigated, promoted or documented. this is because many witnesses are reluctant to speak, because witness protection is significantly lacking. So, you see cases when witnesses are killed for speaking out, ”Wandjiku said.
50-year-old Josephine Akot is one of those featured in the 64-page book. Her son, Sylvester Onyango, disappeared in August 2015. The mother of six recalled that on the day of his disappearance, massive police operations were carried out in and around Dandora, an eastern suburb of Nairobi, where he worked as a public bus. Driver.
Akot says she has been through a lot and asks the government to help her find her son and help her find out if he is alive or dead. She says that even if he died, she would like to know where he was killed. At least she can collect the remains and bury them, she says.
Last month, 16 mutilated bodies were recovered in Garissa County from the Tana River, the longest river in the country. Hundreds of families traveled to the area hoping to identify the remains of their missing loved ones.