IMPUNITY

All must condemn cop murder and police brutality in Lamu

A police officer is supposed to serve and protect.

In Summary
  • That in Lamu these same police officers are now responsible for torture and outright miscarriage of justice is appalling.
  • Such unbecoming behaviour should not be tolerated by the authorities. An example should be made to deter future repetition.

On October 2, 2019, a police officer went missing on the islands of Lamu. On October 5, 2019, constable Hesbon Okemwa Anunda’s beheaded body was found. The officer’s G3 rifle and 60 bullets are still missing. This is not the first such killing reported in Lamu. In 2017, chief Mohamed Shee Mohamed, 50, was attacked with machetes and killed while on his way to work.

 

In April 2019, Amina Bakari, 25, who was working as a volunteer with Kenya Red Cross Society, was killed in Mbwajumwali. It is reported that Amina was hit on the head as she closed her shop at 10pm. The killings have been associated with the drug menace in Lamu county. As we pass our condolences to the family and friends of constable Anunda, we call on the authorities to undertake investigations as required by law and bring his murderers to justice.

As we ponder on the murder, it is reported that in the process of searching for their colleague and his gun, police officers from various stations around Lamu county went around different islands beating and injuring local community members. More than 60 people were tortured by the police. In Tchundwa, 42 were injured, including 14 women and 17 children. In Yabogi 16 were injured and in Mtangawanda six.

 

Among those injured is Badru Mohamed, who was whipped by police officers. The video of his injuries went viral on social media and raised a lot of anger across the entire region. Another victim is Mustakima Mohamed Ali, a 56-year-old resident of Miyabogi who was accosted by a group of more than 30 officers and was beaten by three of them. Not even the elderly were spared.

In places such as Lamu, residents fear the police and government. After decades of marginalisation, communities are less empowered about their constitutional rights and fear coming out to speak against state excesses. In such an environment, police brutality and impunity thrive.

When the victims went to report the matter at the police stations, they were repulsed. It was only after the intervention of Lamu Women Representative Ruweida Obo and other local leaders that the victims were able to officially lodge complaints with the police and were subsequently issued with occurrence book (OB) numbers.

That the police in this time and era would refuse to receive complaints from wananchi and record the same in the OB shows the highest level of impunity. A police officer is supposed to serve and protect. That in Lamu these same police officers are now responsible for torture and outright miscarriage of justice is appalling. Such unbecoming behaviour should not be tolerated by the authorities. An example should be made to deter future repetition.

In places such as Lamu, residents fear the police and government. After decades of marginalisation, communities are less empowered about their constitutional rights and fear coming out to speak against state excesses. In such an environment, police brutality and impunity thrive. As a country, we must pay more attention to such counties and ensure communities’ fundamental rights and freedoms are not only promoted and protected but enjoyed to the fullest.

The police must be made to understand that the best way of ensuring the security of communities and themselves is by enhancing partnership and cooperation. In such a case where one of their own becomes a victim of criminals, instead of going on a vengeance spree, the police should work with local leaders to identify the culprits and urge community members to volunteer information. This will not only get them the real culprits but also win them the support of local communities against the culprits.

 

As Haki Africa, we call on the Independent Police Oversight Authority to investigate the atrocities committed by the police and ensure all responsible for tormenting the local communities are equally brought to book. We further call on the police to establish good working relations with communities instead of causing unnecessary animosity. The only way to ensure lasting peace and security is to promote good working relations between police and the communities.