A coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has urged the government to enact a law on enforced disappearances or amend the existing legislation to criminalize enforced disappearances in order to end extrajudicial killings in the country.
The Missing Voices Coalition, which comprises of 15 CSOs, has been working with various stakeholders over the past four years. to get justice for victims and survivors of police brutality to promote accountability of the force.
Speaking during the closure of a training for journalists on Election Security, Human Rights and Safety in Eldoret town, International Commission of Jurists Kenya Executive Director, Elsy Sainna noted that cases of police killings and enforced disappearances have continued to rise despite the rigorous campaigns and calls to end such acts.
“In 2019, Missing Voices documented 145 cases of police killings, in 2020 158 cases of police killings and 10 cases of enforced disappearances, in 2021 187 cases of police killings and 32 cases of enforced disappearances were recorded,” said Sainna.
In addition, she pointed out that so far, they had recorded 50 cases of police killings and three cases of enforced disappearances as of June this year.
The Director said that despite seeing more arrests of police officers involved in such killings, a gap in law or its application has a significant bearing on the outcome of the cases.
For instance, Sainna noted that poor implementation of the victim and witness protection Acts has prevented them from testifying out of fear of being targeted.
“Additionally, this makes the healing process for the victims and survivors elusive. When the case drags in court, their wounds are continuously reopened with every court date,” she said.
The CSOs pointed out that the law should include recourse for victims and their families and urged for the allocation of a sufficient budget to the Witness Protection Agency to ensure witnesses and families of persons who have been forcefully disappeared are adequately protected.
They also called for the expedition of cases on police killings and enforced disappearances in court and told the Judiciary to provide a realistic timeline for the resolution of such cases.
Missing Voices has been documenting and verifying data on police killings and enforced disappearances and holds several campaigns to disseminate research while pushing the general public to report incidents of police misconduct.