The Kenyan Police killed 157 people and forcefully disappeared 10 others in 2020, making it one of the deadliest years since Missing Voices started keeping the record in 2018.
In 2019, Missing Voices, a coalition of civil rights organisations, verified and published 144 cases of police killings and enforced disappearances in Kenya—most in Nairobi and Mombasa.
As we mark the first anniversary since the Kenyan Government announced COVID-19 containment measures, including dawn to dusk curfew, the month of May witnessed the highest number of people killed by police—27. In September, the police killed three people, the lowest number in 2020.
Most of the people killed were from lower-income areas, especially in urban areas, where it seems they live outside the law’s protection. From our verified cases, most of the victims were killed in what police call anti-crime operations. There is also an emerging trend where the police kill victims in groups and allege they are robbers or part of a gang.
One feature of most police killings cases is they take an inordinate amount of time before they are taken to court. March 30 marks one year since police killed Yassin Moyo, a 13-year-old whose death was the hallmark of violent policing. Moyo’s case has not yet gone to a full trial, and it could be attributed to the closure of the law courts as part of COVID-19 restrictions. However, even outside COVID-19, cases are hardly resolved on time.
The fact that police violations are happening against the backdrop of high-level police and policy reform initiatives is an indication of either: a disconnect between policing blueprints and community experiences; or the failure of discipline and command control. The low number of officers held accountable does not measure the number of those who remain free and continue to participate in brutality or misconduct cases.
This report captures many stories of survivors of police killings who are still crying for justice many years after police officers killed their loved ones. As the world marks the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, we are calling for justice for victims of police killings and enforced disappearances and urging Kenyans to Speak Up because their Silence Kills.
Today we are also launching a revamped website that is easy to navigate and find data and will help members of the public to easily and conveniently report cases of police abuse of power as well as follow cases in court through a trial tracker. The website has a new section of The Voices focusing on profiles of Kenyans killed by police.
- The implementation of the National Coroner’s Act and the Prevention of Torture Act
- Establishment of a National Commission of inquiry into violations by security agents
- Reparations of victims and families of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances
- A public pronouncement by Inspector General of Police and Interior CS condemning police excesses.