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January 22, 2019

Set up inquiry on disappeared persons, families tell the state

Families of victims of enforced disappearances sign a board at the Urban police station on Thursday, August 30, 2018 / BRIAN OTIENO
Families of victims of enforced disappearances sign a board at the Urban police station on Thursday, August 30, 2018 / BRIAN OTIENO

Families stormed the Urban Police Station in Mombasa yesterday, demanding to know the whereabouts of loved ones who have disappeared.

Yesterday was the International Day in Support of Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

The families wanted updates from the police about efforts made to find all disappeared persons.

Lobby groups Haki Africa, Muslims for Human Rights and families say more than 100 persons have been forcefully ‘disappeared’ from the Coast in tfive years.

"This number is rising," Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid told reporters.

Activists and families want a judicial inquiry set up to investigate disappearances and extra-judicial killings.

Khalid and Muhuri chairman Khelef Khalifa said police are not doing enough to look for the victims. “Your silence raises suspicion that you are involved in the disappearances,” Khalifa told the police.

Mombasa police boss Eliud Monari tried to refer the demonstrators to the regional headquarters but they refused to leave. “Don’t make noise here. Just hand over the statement and I will take it to the officers concerned,” Monari said.

"While people keep disappearing, the authorities are failing to find the lost ones and in certain cases, even when evidence is presented including vehicle numbers, little is done by police to follow up," Hassan Mbarak, spokesman for the families said.

Mbarak is an uncle to Husni Mbarak, who was abducted by people suspected to be police officers in Mombasa on May 25.

Raphael Onyimbo, 20, disappeared on February 20 while going to his workplace at Kachonjo in Tudor.

"Whenever I go to Changamwe police station to inquire about the progress in searching for my son, they chase me away like a little child. I am seeking justice for my son. I am deeply hurt," Raphael’s father Alexander Onyango said.

Shee Hamisi said his cousin, Abdullahi, was abducted by unknown people two years ago during Ramadhan in Bongwe village, Kwale, while heading home from work.

"He is said to have been on the police radar on suspicion of being involved in terror activities. We have not seen him or heard from him since then," Hamisi said. "Abdullahi left a wife and 11 children who are now suffering," said Hamisi.

Muhuri executive director Hassan Abdille said most of the cases o involve terror-related suspects.

"Blatant enforced disappearance only contributes towards more radicalisation and does not curb violent extremism," he said.

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