New Delhi: In what authorities said was mistaken identity, Kenyan police killed Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif October 23 in the evening.
Zulfikar Ahmed Khan and Mohamed Zaid Kidwai, two prominent Indian media personalities, along with their driver, Nicodemus Mwania, were abducted and allegedly killed by Kenyan special troops.
“My son’s disappearance has ruined my life. I feel like I’ve lost my mind, but I’ve come to accept that they killed him. I have no hope of getting any help from the government because they knew all along what was going on,” Helen Wairimu told the Sunday Nation.
Four suspects, including policeman Fredrick Leliman, have been found guilty of murdering lawyer Wille Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and driver Joseph Muiruri.
These are some of the recent reported cases where the police were directly responsible for the extrajudicial execution of civilians and tourists across Kenya, where the US and UK have already issued a strong travel advisory asking their citizens to take extra precautions and not visit certain marked places. areas.
In 2021 alone, 219 murders and enforced disappearances by police were reported.
“Of these, 187 cases were murders by the police and 32 were 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.
Missing Voices, a consortium of fifteen civil society organisations, released a report indicating that such incidents are more widespread across the country than initially thought. In 2019, Missing Voice documented 145 cases of police killings. 168 people were killed or disappeared in police custody in 2020.
Last week, newly elected Kenyan President Ruto disbanded an elite police force known as the Special Service Unit (SSU). He said he made his decision after receiving an investigation report into the disappearance of the two Indian nationals and their Kenyan taxi driver.
Special Service Unit, a division of the police that had become notorious for politically motivated killings. The SSU is a division of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), believed to be linked to the murder of two Indians and a local Kenyan.
The report recommended disbanding the unit to pave the way for the conclusion of investigations before the case is forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
President Ruto said more changes are in sight as his administration seeks to overhaul security management.
“We have a plan on how to secure this country so that we [can] avoid the shame of Kenyans killed [by the Police and their bodies dumped] in the Yala River and others. We are going to change this country for the better,” the president quoted in the Nation newspaper.
For President Ruto, the alleged extrajudicial executions of two well-known Indians and a Pakistani presenter have once again highlighted the arrogance and irresponsibility of Kenyan troops who allegedly killed people extrajudicially.
The two missing Indians gave free support to President Ruto’s campaign team when they were abducted on July 23 outside the Ole Sereni Hotel on Mombasa Road in Nairobi. Four former members of the SSU are to be tried for their disappearance.
Meanwhile, the police continue to use excessive force. Residents feel there has been a lack of political will as most political parties remain unstable and use the police as they might to govern the country.
In its latest report published earlier this year, Human Rights Watch noted the increase extrajudicial executions by the policeincluding during the application of containment measures related to Covid-19.
Bodies found in the Yala River in 2021
Much has been written in the media and human rights reports about the Yala River, where abandoned corpses, mostly found with torture marks, have been found. Earlier this year, an exhibit of bodies floating in the Yala River in western Kenya made headlines.
The hashtag #RiverYalaBodies first appeared on Twitter on December 10, 2021, when blogger and activist Joel Mbirika shared a thread detailing how dozens of bodies were being recovered from the Yala River, hidden in bags.
Yet it wasn’t until early 2022 that the story went viral after Haki Africa, a national human rights organization based in Mombasa, responded to the report.
According to Mbirika, a body is fished out of the river every two to three days. The bodies are taken to the Yala Sub-County Hospital morgue, where they are buried in mass graves. The corpses are usually young adult males, probably in their thirties.
The social media uproar sparked by the story and the scant attention it received from the media has since died down, and the saga has been long forgotten, and people have moved on.
Is traveling to Kenya becoming risky?
As such, no travel advisory has been issued by the Indian authorities; however, the United States and United Kingdom have issued travel advisories asking visitors to be cautious when traveling after dark anywhere in Kenya due to crime.
The advisory reads: “Do not travel to Kenya-Somalia border counties and certain coastal areas due to terrorism and kidnappings: areas of Turkana County due to crimes; reconsider travel to Eastleigh and Kibera wards in Nairobi due to crimes and kidnappings.”
Terrorist attacks in Kenya are not excluded: There is an increased threat of terrorism, including terrorist kidnappings, across Kenya. Attacks, including terrorist kidnappings, could target tourists or foreign nationals. Attacks can occur at any time, including holidays or religious or other celebrations.
Pursue robberies are common in transport hubs such as bus stations, train stations and airports. Assaults, kidnappings, carjackings and armed robberies occur regularly, particularly in Nairobi, Mombasa and other major cities.
Country Profile: Violent crimes, such as armed carjackings, assaults, home invasions and kidnappings, can happen at any time. Local police are willing but often unable to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents and terrorist attacks. Emergency medical and fire services are also limited.
Terrorist attacks have taken place with little or no warning, targeting Kenyan and foreign government facilities, tourist sites, transport hubs, hotels, resorts, markets/malls and places of worship. Terrorist acts include armed assaults, suicide bombings, grenade attacks and kidnappings.