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September 26, 2018

Disappearances don't fix our social problems

Johra Hassan Mbarak holds the picture of his abducted brother Jabran Hassan. He is with Haki Africa director Hussein Khalid and Sheikh Abu Qatada in Mombasa. Jabran was abducted by unknown people in a Probox car in Malindi. Photo Andrew Kasuku
Johra Hassan Mbarak holds the picture of his abducted brother Jabran Hassan. He is with Haki Africa director Hussein Khalid and Sheikh Abu Qatada in Mombasa. Jabran was abducted by unknown people in a Probox car in Malindi. Photo Andrew Kasuku

Extrajudicial killings have been 'normalised' in Kenya. They are so common that we hardly think about them.

Young men are arrested by police in Mombasa and disappear without trace ( see Siasa section). Disappearances happen every week in Mathare.

The public attitude is that these disappearances are probably necessary. If thieves and gangsters are taken to court, they will escape justice by exploiting weaknesses in our legal system. 

But those disappeared young men may have been innocent. What then? Are they just collateral damage in the war against crime?

Neighbouring Uganda is far safer than Kenya and the police there does not practice extrajudicial killing. Why is it necessary here?

Perhaps these disappearances are an institutional way to avoid dealing with the social problems of a highly unequal society. Let's just eliminate any Have Nots who have become troublemakers and hope that will calm things down.

But this approach does not solve the root problem of social inequality in Kenya. And one day that is going to blow up.

 

Quote of the day: "The greatest cruelties of our century have been the impersonal cruelties of remote decision, of system and routine, especially when they could be justified as regrettable operational necessity." - Eric Hobsbawm, The English historian was born on 9 June, 1917

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