• Bamburi resident Beja Mahaja recounted how his son was killed in cold blood by the police
• Mohamed Khalifa narrated how his son Khalifa Mohamed disappeared in September 2017.
Wailing by widows and relatives of victims of extra-judicial killings yesterday drew a mixture of sympathy and anxiety from people attending a public hearing in Mombasa.
Emotions welled up whenever the names of their slain husbands or sons were read out by Kwale-based Human Rights Development Officer Kashi Jermain. The victims were gunned down by the police.
Jermain presented a memorandum to members of the Senate Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa.
The senators sought to find out the extent of extra-judicial killings in the county. The Senate will compile a report on possible amendments to existing laws. Relevant government departments will also be required to be accountable.
Organisations and individuals either narrated their experiences or provided information on extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances.
Bamburi resident Beja Mahaja recounted how his son was killed in cold blood. He was on his way to Moi International Airport when he stumbled on an incident involving a dangerous criminal. The public was baying for the gangster's blood.
“Police (from Miritini) ordered the crowd to disperse. They indiscriminately fired at the people with live bullets. Three people were shot. My son was among those who were shot. That is how his life was cut short,” Mahaja said, sobbing.
Mombasa resident Mohamed Khalifa narrated the last movements of his 26- year-old son Khalifa Mohamed who disappeared in September 2017.
The son had gone to Kongowea Market to buy fruits. At the market entrance, five men bundled him into a vehicle and drove off. The men had identified themselves as county askaris.
Khalifa searched for his son in various police stations but did not find him. He has since not heard from him. Neither does he know his of whereabouts one-and-a-half years later.
Lobby group Muslims for Human Rights' (Muhuri) programmes coordinator Francis Auma said despite having many similar sittings in the past, forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings persist. He said Muhuri has recorded 73 cases in the Coast region since 2017.
“We are saying enough with these sittings. We demand speedy police reforms to check the excesses,” he said.
Haki Africa’s Mathias Shipeta said his organisation has recorded 85 killings in the Coast region since January 2018. Fifty-six were allegedly caused by police officers, 16 by criminal gangs and 13 by mobs.
Shipeta asked the Senate to urgently constitute a judicial inquiry to investigate extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances in the Coast region.
Lawyer Muchai Lumatete, who represented the Law Society of Kenya, blamed the marginalisation of communities at the Coast for increased violent extremism. He appealed to the state to cease using summary executions as a way of quelling discontent. Lumatete said the killings will only stir more rebellion and ultimately more deaths.
“When you study the emergence of groups like Kaya Bombo in 1997 and the Mombasa Republican Council, whose members were killed by police, your conclusion will not rule out marginalisation as one of the root causes,” Lumatete said.
He said the state should deliberately provide opportunities for young people at the Coast and work to rectify past transgressions against communities.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights’ Kamanda Mucheke said evidence gathered by the lobby shows a pattern of unlawful conduct by security agencies and individuals suspected to be associated with terrorism.
He said the most affected counties are Nairobi, Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Lamu, Tana River, Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa.
He said the KNCHR has documented more 150 cases of Kenyans who have been killed or forced to disappear by the security agencies.
Mucheke called for an end to the torture of suspects while in police custody.
The Director of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions were represented in the sitting by regional officers Joseph Ng’ang’a and Alloys Kemu, respectively.
Ng’anga asked families of extra-judicial killings victims to come forward and report cases. The DCI cannot investigate cases that have not been reported, he said.
Ng'ang'a said the National Police Service will not defend criminals in its ranks. He gave examples of successful convictions of officers involved in extra-judicial killings.
“We are also victims of these killings. We have lost police officers and we want the public and stakeholders also to understand the circumstances under which officers are forced to act with excessive force when their own lives are at risk. Such cases cannot qualify to be classified as extra-judicial," he said.
Kemu listed programmes by the DPP’s office and the IPOA to expedite the processing of complaints on police atrocities. This is aimed at bolstering trust between security agencies and the public through dialogue.
“Evidence is key. Without it, we cannot prosecute,” he said.
Kemu asked members of the public to volunteer information and to be willing to testify in court since witness protection is available.
He concurred that addressing marginalisation of Coast residents is the key to toning down extremism.
The committee’s chairman Senator Samson Cherargei told family members of the victims of extra-judicial killings that the hearing will not be in vain. He said the Senate will recommend compensation for families of victims as well as hold the security agencies involved to account.
Senators Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), Kwale’s Issa Juma Boy, Anwar Loitiptip (Lamu), Meru's Mithika Linturi and Mombasa’s Mohamed Faki were present.