Kenya: Real-time reporting to lift the lid on police killings, abductions
Kenyans will be able to share information about police extra-judicial killings and abductions in real time, using a new online portal designed to help human rights organizations hold the authorities to account, Amnesty International said as the world marks the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
“Hundreds of people are arrested every year in what are termed as crime-busting police swoops, but many so-called suspects are never presented in court or charged with any crime. The next thing that usually happens is that they are found dead, their bodies callously dumped somewhere. Others are disappeared without a trace,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“It is unconscionable that scores of families have been made to live in agony at the hands of those meant to protect and defend them; not knowing where their loved ones are; whether they are alive or dead, and if dead, where their bodies are.”
To help record current and future incidents of such killings and disappearances, Amnesty International and its local partner organizations in Kenya will tomorrow launch Missing Voices, an online portal that will enable members of the public to report suspected executions and abductions by security forces in real time.
The portal, a secure one-stop database of all extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Kenya, will provide human rights organizations with valuable evidence with which to demand prompt investigations and accountability from the authorities.
“Unlawful police killings and enforced disappearances are widely reported in the media when they occur, but reliable police data is hard to come by as there is no central police database, and police are reluctant to report or investigate crimes committed by their own officers,” said Joan Nyanyuki.
“With this portal we are now taking the power of information and giving it back to the people so that they can take action when police arbitrarily arrest, kill or abduct their loved ones by tipping off human rights organizations for follow up and to demand accountability on their behalf.”
But this portal is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end - justice. Amnesty International is also calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to acknowledge that enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions are entrenched in the way police perform their duties.
“First, President Kenyatta must apologize to victims of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances and their families. He must also commit to ensuring justice for every missing or unlawfully executed person by among other things, urgently appointing a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into past incidents,” said Joan Nyanyuki.
The Director of Public Prosecutions must investigate every case and prosecute those found culpable, in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty, and the Attorney General must initiate legislation to explicitly criminalize extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances in line with international human rights standards.
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