The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has expressed concerns over arbitrary killings and cases of enforced disappearances in the country.
KNCHR Chairperson Roseline Odede said such occurrences have continued to infringe and threaten the right to life adding that in some cases the investigations have allegedly pointed to security agencies and involvement of non-state actors including bandits.
According to a human rights status report released by the commission on Wednesday, 22 cases of extrajudicial killings and 9 cases of enforced disappearance were recorded between January 2022 to June 2023 with majority of the victims being youth aged between 18 to 35 years.
The report further indicates that in September last year, 39 bodies were discovered in River Yala and the Aberdare Forest in March 2023.
The Commission also conducted fact-finding mission in the counties of Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Baringo which revealed a grim reality amid enhanced security operations against banditry.
“Media reports corroborate these findings, indicating 125 deaths since June 2021 in Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, West Pokot, and Turkana due to banditry attacks,” Odede stated.
The Commission called for the full operationalization of the National Coroners Service to aid in investigations of deaths caused by violent criminal acts, extrajudicial killings or deaths in custody.
On the right to freedom and security of the person, the Commission expressed deep concern over a resurgence of abductions allegedly committed by members of the National Police Service.
KNHCR highlighted incidents involving Jaswant Singh Rai, Mohamed Zaid Sami Kidwai, Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan, Nicodemus Mwania, Morris Mabior Awikjok Bak, and Osman Khalif that have been reported recently.
While acknowledging the government’s counter-terrorism measures, including 23 convictions related to terrorism and radicalization, the Commission noted a rise in terror related attacks in Lamu, Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera Counties.
“Although reports from the National Police Service on the lives lost remains scanty, media reports indicate that at least 11 security personnel were killed and scores injured. In June 2023, 5 civilians were killed when armed assailants raided Salama village in Lamu County,” the commission stated.
KNCHR urged the government to enhance the fight against terrorism and violent extremism while respecting human rights standards.