The identities of 16 bodies retrieved from the Tana River between July and September 2021 remain unknown to date.

This is as families of 14 people, whom police arrested in Garissa from October 2020, struggle to locate them, and ponder whether they are alive or dead. MUHURI documented these cases. There is no word from authorities about their whereabouts.

Pathologists at Garissa County Referral Hospital performed an autopsy on the bodies. They collected DNA samples from six people whose kins vanished under police custody. The results are not yet out or public.

Three of those who presented their samples are from Garissa. Others are from Nairobi, Kajiado, and Kiambu.

It is unclear how long these bodies stayed in the water before divers recovered them after being blocked by trees and sand.

In late September, doctors transferred three bodies to Mwingi Level 4 Hospital mortuary from Garissa morgue. The tiny Garissa facility could not cope with the magnitude of the tragedy. It can only store 13 corpses.

The decomposed bodies had signs of torture—mutilated limbs, crushed skulls. The hands got tied with stones and logs on the back, and it is believed the intention was to make them sink—”forever”. These people got murdered in cold blood before being tossed on the river.

In this report, produced in October 2021, MUHURI shares the predicament of two families whose kins police arrested and are untraced. Watch it here:


More bodies in Central, Nairobi

But the dumping of dead bodies is also rampant in the capital and Central. Around May 2019, 14 bodies of adults and infants got retrieved from the Nairobi River. Their death circumstances were disturbing.

Between April and June 2021, some 15 bodies were removed from the Murang’a River. In May 2021, two bodies that were handcuffed were retrieved from the Rubiru stretch of Chania River. Two others were fished from the Kandara sub-county.

One of the four men who disappeared in Kitengela on April 19, 2021, was found dead a week later in River Mukungai in Mathioya sub-county.

Mohamed Ahmed. Police arrested his brother, Noor Sahal, in 2017 in Garissa. He remains untraced. Photo: Ernest Cornel.


Article 26 of the Constitution of Kenya says everyone has a right to life. Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes the inherent right of every person to life. This right shall be protected by law, and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life.

MUHURI makes the following demands:

  1. The government of Kenya should ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
  2. The Kenya government should enact a law on enforced disappearances or amend the existing legislation to criminalize enforced disappearances. The law should include recourse and reparations for victims and their families.
  3. The Kenya government should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).
  4. The Kenya government should prioritize the need for law reform on sanctions for government officials’ failure to obey court orders for production in habeas corpus cases.