An Open Letter to KNCHR and Other Human Rights Organizations in Kenya

17 mins read

This week, Kenyans came face to face with something that should have shaken the KNCHR plus other human rights groups and organizations to their roots and obliged them to take real action in defense of human rights in the country.

The DCI in their own public communications to Kenyans provided a story of how they faced a wild shootout with robbers in Murang’a and “with precision”, managed to kill two of those trying to kill them and they put out the pictures of the dead bodies, together with the money they were allegedly caught with.

Unfortunately for the killer police officers, someone had taken a photograph of the two dead people under arrest by armed officers and in handcuffs. The person who took that picture posted it on social media. Kenyans all across the country were soon asking how two people already under arrest started a shootout leading to them being killed by the police.

The DCI and police bosses realized they were in a mess having lied to Kenyans and now being busted by pictures that they could not dispute. The DCI deleted the posts on their Facebook about the alleged shootout. But it was too late.

Kenyans already knew what happened and it was obvious that the two victims were executed in cold blood by the police, most likely so the police officers could grab whatever amount of money they were arrested with and give fake numbers to the public.

These were the pictures originally posted by the DCI of Kenya Police providing the images of the AK-47 weapon the people they killed had and the money they were caught with in bags.

It was a pretty elaborate work by the DCI and the police hierarchy painting the whole thing as a brave and gallant work by the Kenyan Police to defend Kenyans from robbers. Then when all hell broke loose after the pictures emerged to show Kenyans that the police were lying to cover up an execution the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) announced they are investigating.

That basically means IPOA will invent a way to make sure the execution is excused with another bunch of wild stories from the Kenya police and the DCI office.

A day later after the execution, the Kenya Police came up with their new invention over the matter.

Here is the new story. Central Kenya Regional Commissioner Fredrick Shisia has defended police against the alleged killing of two robbery suspects in Murang’a on Sunday.

The Regional Commissioner says the police are not responsible for the deaths of two suspected armed robbers as the pair allegedly died in a crossfire between the police and fellow gang members as they were taking the police to their hideout.

“We were able to arrest two suspects who were coming out of that forest with a bag; on being pursued by our officers, the bag contained some monies suspected to have been stolen from Unitas Sacco…the officers insisted that they show them where the firearms were and in the process, they were to go back to the forest to assist the officers to trace them because they had confessed,” he explained.

“Unfortunately as the officers were moving through thickets, they were met by gunfire and it was what prompted the officers to take cover and engage the other group after which the two suspects were fatally injured.”

He said the police recovered two guns that he said the gangs had snatched from police officers earlier.

“The issue that the two suspects were killed by our officers is not true. We cannot say that our police officers were responsible for the killing of these two suspects because the officers were confronted by gunfire…I think in that exchange of fire, is when they dropped the firearm and ran away,” he said.

According to the police boss, the fact that the slain suspects had been shot with guns belonging to the police indicates that the attackers may have used the stolen weapons to fire back at the sleuths.

“An AK 47 was taken away from our officers with specific number of rounds of ammunition but when the firearm was recovered, it had less, same as the G3,” he noted.

“We believe the two firearms were used in the exchange of fire against the police officers; it is just fortunate that we didn’t get any injuries on side of our officers.”

In the incident which has left police on the spot, the DCI on Sunday posted images showing the two suspects in handcuffs and later the same men dead.

The initial post of the men alive was deleted triggering suspicion among Kenyans on social media, with many accusing the police officers of gunning down the two suspects.

Two big problems for the Killer Police Force. One is, how did you shoot and kill people you had already arrested? The second issue for the police when they manufactured their story of the two being killed by other robbers in the forest is that they were shot with guns that only belong to the police.

This is a case where the Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome has to be held to account.

It is a case where the DCI boss Amin Mohammed whose office released all sorts of bogus statements about the murder of the two people should be held to account. Who is going to hold them to account when our human rights organizations are dead? IPOA will do that? Give Kenyans a break, please.

The police bosses are now saying oh, our officers left their guns when they were running so the other killers got the police guns and used them to kill the two. This is more than rubbish, it is offensive. It is just total chaos now. We have to get out of this with some justice for the nation and its people. We will. Of that the country is sure.

The biggest nightmare for Kenyans who believe in human rights for our citizens is that the worst execution that has been done in Kenya is for the government so far to strangle our human rights organizations, including the publicly funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) which has been completely executed by the government and can no longer do anything about human rights, including something so glaring like what happened here.

Executing two people in such a brazen manner is scary, but when our human rights organizations can’t even respond to such abuse of human rights and they say nothing completely, it is a thousand times more frightening. Why?

Because one of the biggest problems we have in Kenya is police murder of citizens and extra-judicial killings. It has been going on since Moi and it continues. Why are our human rights organizations in Kenya so uniformly silent about it now, when for the first time, we have glaring evidence of extra-judicial killings including undeniable photos?

There was a time in Kenya right in the middle of hard times and the fight for democracy when we had a human rights organization called People Against Torture (PAT), under the leadership of Njuguna Mutahi and so many other human rights activists who were working mostly as volunteers. Those people would be present in a scene like this within hours. PAT workers and activists would gather their own information and talk to witnesses and people around.

What has KNCHR or any other human rights organization in Kenya done to collect their own information and hold people accountable on this matter up to now when the Police are inventing new lies?

For the first time ever, to be frank, we have a case where there is sufficient, credible, and in fact, overwhelming evidence of extra-judicial murder by Kenya Police officers which if proven could help a lot in stopping police violence against Kenyans even when they are suspected of crimes. These are moments that shape the history of nations in pursuit of justice for all.

Moments like when at the tender age of six, Ruby Bridges advanced the cause of civil rights in November 1960 when she became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South. When the state tried to stop her the people said NO. The rest is history.

Now we have a critical moment in our human rights as a country when police are caught red-handed killing citizens. The worst case of extra-judicial killing seen live.

What is the KNCHR doing about it? Zero + Zero + Zero which equals nothing. Why?

Apart from the publicly funded KNCHR, Kenya has so many other human rights organizations including Amnesty International Kenya which historically has been very active in protecting human rights in the country.

They are the ones who reported about our tortures as student human rights activists while in jail in Kenya in the 1980s and helped us to get out because the Moi government was getting hammered from every corner. Where are they now when obvious extra-judicial killings in Kenya are getting rampant?

This would be a perfect case for the KNCHR to say they have to be part of the investigation and see the evidence for themselves. That is how human rights groups worked in Kenya before, during much more hostile times. Be part of the investigation and do your own investigations instead of waiting for IPOA to provide you with predictable excuses.

If IPOA becomes more important for the protection of Kenyans against police violence than KNCHR and other groups protecting human rights in Kenya, then everything about human rights in Kenya is dead. If that is the case, why does the country need a publicly funded human rights organization at all?

Kenyans are going to have to deal with this situation pretty soon. They have done it before under very difficult circumstances. It is coming.

And what happened to the Baby Pendo’s case in which KNCHR was invited?

Police Officers Linked To Death Of Baby Pendo To Be Charged With Murder, Rape And Torture

Police officers linked to death of Baby Pendo to be charged with murder, rape and torture

A number of police officers implicated in the 2017 death of one baby Samantha Pendo, the infant who lost her life when police attempted to contain the chaos that erupted in Kisumu’s Nyalenda slums following the August 8th polls, will be charged with murder, rape and torture.

This is according to DPP Noordin Haji who believes that the officers, whose identities have been withheld, might have been responsible for Pendo’s death as well as a number of other human rights violations including the raiding of homes of innocent and unarmed civilians. 

Haji, in a statement on Friday, added that in the period between August 11 and 17, 2017, junior police officers acted on orders from their superiors and moved to contain the tense situation in Kisumu but ended up infringing on the rights of area residents.

Both the junior and senior officers involved in the police operation dubbed ‘Operation Post Election Mipango’ will be charged as a result.

“The operation had a well-organized command structure with sector commanders and was executed according to a consistent pattern involving similar victims and similar modus operandi,” said Haji.

“The operation had heads of command in charge of its implementation. They were widespread and systematic against the civilian population of Nyalenda, Nyamasaria. Kondele and Obunga: and they were planned and coordinated. and not random.”  

According to Haji, the delay in the case, first reported in 2017, was caused by the complexity of the offences, investigations, and the vulnerability of witnesses and victims of the offences.

“The initial investigations were carried out by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) which forwarded the files for perusal and advice. Upon perusal of the file, we established that the suspects had not been identified,” said Haji.

“As a result, the ODPP directed that the matter be dealt with by way of a public inquest (No. 6 of 2017) pursuant to Section 388 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The ODPP perused the proceedings, and the judgment of the inquest, and established that the attacks were committed by or under the authority of senior national police officers.”

The ODPP further directed that the investigations expand beyond the death of Baby Pendo and take into account the aspect of superior/command responsibility.

“The DPP directed that prosecution-guided Investigations be undertaken by the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA). In addition. the DPP invited the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Civil Society organizations, victims and witnesses. to participate and assist in the investigations,” said Haji.

“The DPP requested and was supported by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UHCHR) through its partnership with Government institutions to advance accountability for serious human rights violations, and by international experts from Partners In Justice International.”  

Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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