Enforced disappearance still a menace despite 30% decline

Families are searching in vain for missing sons and suspecting cops

In Summary

• Despite a decline, the families affected are not merry as they are still in frantic search

• Jerim Njoroge's mother Wanjiku fears her son is dead or being tortured somewhere

Activist stage protest after addressing the media at Uhuru Gardens in Mombasa county on August 30, 2021.
Activist stage protest after addressing the media at Uhuru Gardens in Mombasa county on August 30, 2021.

Adan Osman worked as a madrassa teacher in Eastleigh, a job he had done for years without getting into trouble, until he got abducted by unknown people on November 14, not to be seen again nearly a month on.

On that day, he had woken up early to attend the 5am morning prayers as was his tradition, and thereafter, he went on with his daily activities.

In the evening, he had dinner with a friend at the New Tahrir hotel in Eastleigh.

As they walked home, CCTV footage showed that a white and dark tinted double cabin vehicle pulled over near them.

Two men came out and grabbed him, as a man who seemed to have been tailing him helped the two push him into the waiting car.

That was the last time his family saw or heard from him.

His family members, including his brother Abdikadir Mude and his niece Lula Mohamed, say they have moved from one police station to another.

They have even inspected the file at the anti-terror police unit, but their relative’s name features nowhere.

“I have come from Northeastern to look for my brother. I have gone to police stations, Milimani law courts and even to the morgue to no avail,” he said.

The relatives say that once they reported the disappearance, the police came to their residence to view the CCTV footage that captured his abduction, but they did not take the flash disk, only saying that they would return the following day. Nothing came of it.

The case of Osman is like that of Jerim Njoroge, who went missing in Mathare in August and months on, his family is almost giving up his search.

Njoroge’s mother Eunice Wanjiku told the Star she is certain the police know whether her son is dead or alive because people in plain clothes had warned her to relocate with her adult son to the village in Murang'a, or he would soon be “buried”.

“I strongly feel my son is dead or he is being tortured somewhere and is near death,” she said of the the 27-year-old man amid sobs.

“He was trying to make it in life and once in a while, he could snatch phones or be in bad groups, but I had told him to stop and he was changing.

“People who said they were friendly police came to my stall here in Mathare and said they are advising that the boy go home or it’ll turn out badly.”

The two are part of the 114 incidents feared to be police-orchestrated cases of enforced disappearance recorded this year by Missing Voices, a coalition of human rights groups that monitors and documents police activities.

The figures, however, represent a 30 per cent decline in the extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

In 2022, 153 cases were recorded, 219 in 2021, 168 in 2020 and 145 in 2019.

The lobby group accuses President William Ruto of paying lip service to stopping police excesses.

“Police killings and enforced disappearances continue to be a major concern in our country despite promises by President William Ruto in his presidential inaugural speech,” Missing Voices said.

“Let me paint for you a picture of the situation in numbers from 2022, then we shall compare with 2023.”

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