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Nairobi police station leads in extra-judicial killings – report

Thursday, April 28th, 2022 00:00 | By
Pangani Police Station in Nairobi. PHOTO/File

Pangani Police Station in Nairobi leads in cases  of extrajudicial killings in the country, a new report shows.

Missing Voices, a consortium of organisations working towards the end of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the country, listed the station as most “notorious”.

In its annual report released in Nakuru yesterday, the lobby group revealed that it had documented at least 30 cases of police killings that were reportedly associated with Pangani Police Station.

For instance, in 2021, according to Missing Voices, every month, with the exception of June, officers from the police station were accused of murder.

The report also indicates that many people were killed during the enforcement of Covid-19 regulations.

“In this report, the Missing Voices team spoke to survivors who lost their sons to police killings and are in the process of seeking justice in court,” said Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director Defenders Coalition.

According to Ngugi, in 2021, statistics documented by the lobby recorded at least 219 cases of police killings and enforced disappearances (ED) in 161 incidents.

Out of the cases, 187 were of police killings and 32 were enforced disappearances.

Of the 32 cases of EDs, two of the victims were later found alive after campaigns by civil society organisations.

Steep rise

“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,” he said.

He further revealed that for the last three years, during which Missing Voices has actively tracked the data, police had killed more than 500 people.

The numbers show a steep rise in the alleged extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances last year compared to 2020.

“In 2019, Missing Voice documented 145 cases of police killings while168 people were killed or disappeared in police custody in 2020,” he said.

The launch of the report brought together stakeholders from the Judiciary, religious organisations, the police and human rights groups.

Unlawful tactics

The group voiced their concerns over the delay in seeking justice for victims, stating that despite adequate evidence, authorities when confronted continue to deny claims of enforced disappearances and police killings.

“All of their cases were taken back to the inquest stage because of “lack of evidence” despite the fact that they had witness statements, post-mortem reports and the police officers were identified,” said Ngugi.

According to Ngugi, it was unfortunate that accused officers continued to operate in the same communities and used unlawful tactics to throw out or weaken cases against them.

“They threatened witnesses and intimidated families and none of the mothers could articulate why their cases were taken back to the inquest stage and seeking answers from officials proved fruitless,” he added.

The lobby noted that the killings were systematic, widespread and carefully planned adding that despite the fact that there are more arrests of police officers involved in such killings, the criminal justice system is slow in dispensing justice.

“Poor implementation of the victim and witness protection Acts prevents them from testifying out of fear of being targeted. In cases where a State agency is involved in a crime, for instance, police killings, the witness requires protection before the case starts,” said Ngugi.

He added: “It has also been noted that there exists a gap where police officers falsely charge a victim of police misconduct and the Witness Protection Agency cannot protect a suspect. A case in point is Josephat Mwenda who, despite needing witness protection, was unable to receive it because he was already facing a criminal charge in court. He was killed by police two months later.”

The lobby group noted that court delays weaken cases because most witnesses recall the incident from memory and the longer the cases take, the more witnesses forget the critical aspects of the case-location, time, and the exact sequence of the incident.

“The defense could use the discrepancy in witnesses’ recollection to undermine the case,” he said.

The lobby now wants the government to enact a law on enforced disappearances or amend existing legislation to criminalise enforced disappearances saying it should include recourse and reparations for victims and their families.

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