Slum youth 'at greatest risk from police killing'

In Summary

• On average, 6-7 killings are reported every month.

A member of the civil society lies on top of a mock coffin stained with mock blood, as others chant slogans during a protest dubbed "Stop extrajudicial killings" on the killing of human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client and their driver in Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2016.
A member of the civil society lies on top of a mock coffin stained with mock blood, as others chant slogans during a protest dubbed "Stop extrajudicial killings" on the killing of human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client and their driver in Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2016.
Image: FILE

Young men aged between 18-25 years are endangered species in the city’s informal settlements. They form an unenviable majority of the 107 people killed in Kenya last year, the 2019 report on the State of police killings and forced disappearances released yesterday shows.

According to the data collected by a consortium of human rights organizations, young men in Nairobi’s informal settlements have died at the hands of the police and other uniformed officers. Last year alone, 49 young men were executed in front of witnesses who have been cowed and intimidated into silence. This means that no arrests or prosecutions have been done. The policemen responsible are still running free.March 2019 was especially bloody with 23 killings reported. April killings peaked at 17 and November 11.

On average, 6-7 killings are reported every month. Although the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) undertakes to investigate extrajudicial killings, the body lacks any prosecutorial powers and they can only make recommendations for prosecution. The authority also faces a myriad of challenges, with the failure or reluctance by the national police service to offer them assistance and cooperation greatly hampering their activities.  

The situation is so dire that IPOA despite the high volume of complaints of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances made against the police, the authority has only managed to resolve three cases since it began its operations in 2012.

In a  report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council last year, Human Rights Watch decried Kenya’s rising cases of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. The report states that Kenya has failed to ensure greater accountability and transparency of its police and security forces, including measures to prevent abuses, investigate, and prosecute violations.