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Rogue police target slum youths, says new report

Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid.

Findings of research on extra-judicial killings presented to Senate gives shocking details of brutality.

Police pumped seven bullets into a suspect and demanded Sh3,000 for each bullet from his family, according to a chilling narration that captures the horror of extrajudicial killings in the country.

In a nutshell, they were supposed to suppress their anger and instead “reward” the law enforcers with a total of Sh21,000.

This was one of the accounts contained in a report on extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances and excessive use of force by police on suspects presented to Parliament yesterday.

It says slightly over a year — 15 months — 210 cases of killings and disappearances have been reported and are currently being investigated by the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA).

The report identified Tsavo West National Park and Ol Donyo Sabuk River as some of the notorious dumping sites for the victims, most of whom are jobless youth from the slums with high crime rates.

It also named Dandora, Pangani, Huruma, Mathare, Kariobangi, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Kamukunji in Nairobi as notorious police stations where the youth are likely to be arrested, tortured, harassed and killed.

Others are Nyeri, Eldoret and Nyali Central police stations.

Last month, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja in a statement in Parliament raised alarm over the spate of arbitrary extra-judicial killings of innocent young Kenyans by police officers in Nairobi county.

“It is sad and totally unacceptable for us to continue condoning the level of impunity that is being displayed by our police officers in broad daylight. The mission of our National Police Service (NPS) is very clear; to provide professional and people-centred service through community partnership and upholding the rule of law for a safe and secure society,” he said.

But yesterday, the Senate Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee chaired by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei was taken a back as human rights defenders narrated and demonstrated how rogue police officers kill, torture, harass innocent citizens and demand from the families of the victims money for the bullets used.

This impunity is rampant in informal settlements, where rogue police officers threaten eyewitnesses and refuse to grant the families of the deceased permits to hold burial planning meetings.

Forced disappearances

Now human rights and governance organisations, Amnesty International, Haki Africa, IPOA, Independent Medical Legal Unit (IMLU) and Social Justice Centres Working Group among others want the Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai to provide police data on police killings, forced disappearances and extra-judicial executions and to respond to the missing voices annual figures.

They also want a review of laws and regulations on use of force and firearms and public order management to ensure that force is only used in a legal, accountable, necessary, ethical and proportionate in the circumstances, and the minimum amount necessary to accomplish the lawful objective concerned.

“Once they kill, a day or two they will come and threaten the immediate family, communities and witnesses. So as much we are taking the cases to court as human rights groups, sometimes, witnesses chickened out,” said social Justice Centres working group convener Wilfred Olal.

According to him, some families are stretched to the limit and forced to pay for the bullets that were used to kill their loved ones. On illegal arrests, social Justice Centres working group convener disclosed on average police arrest 100 young men.

“Police trucks move around the slums arresting anybody on sight. If you don’t have Sh1,000 you will be taken to court and charged with any offence,” he lamented.

For instance, in Nairobi City County, police arrest the youth aged between 14 and 30 and detain them in their special cell near Amana Petrol Station located on Juja road.

There is also a gang of police officers also operating online in the name of Hessy. “These are police officers who are well known in the communities.

They profile people, arrest them and kill them and post them on the social media,” said Olal.

Hussein Khalid of Haki Africa, who disclosed at the coastal counties, poverty had been criminalised and social ills such as drug abuse and violent extremism used by security forces as guise to kill, torture and harass innocent citizens.

He enumerated various police killings, with last week, two people said to have been shot in Tudor area, Mombasa county by police.

Two weeks earlier, a 17-year-old girl, who was seven months pregnant died in police custody.

The Defenders Coalition, which includes human rights defenders, journalists and whistleblowers, painted a grim picture of how police officers have taken the lives of four young men for exercising their rights to picket, demonstrate and protest.

While those investigating, reporting and calling out perpetrators, they have been met with glaring life threats, intimidation and evictions by landlords who collude with trigger-happy cops.

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