When confronted with human rights reports or media accounts, Kenyan authorities continue to either deny or dismiss the existence of government policy on enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.
Majority of extrajudicial executions are preceded by enforced disappearance, which significantly increases whenever security agencies are engaged in eliminating suspected organised criminal groups. Security agencies have also been implicated in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions during counter-terrorism operations. These operations are undertaken by multiple security agencies including police, the army and para-military police.
The Police Reforms Working Group Kenya (PRWG-K) created this website to fill in the evidentiary gap by layering victims’ testimony with consolidated quantitative data. The Missing Voices website will serve four key functions:
- It will be a one stop clearing platform on all issues of extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances
- It will be a live reporting website, where anyone can report an incident of extrajudicial executions and/or of an enforced disappearance, for the PRWG to follow up on the lead and verify the tip
- It will be used for accountability. The cases will be shared with respective oversight authorities, and organizations in the Working group will ensure to take strong evidentiary cases to court to seek justice is served.
- It will be a resource and advocacy tool. The stories of individual cases, the trial tracker, the data sets and reports will enrich the user’s knowledge of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances in Kenya.
The bulk of the data for this joint Police Reform Working Group (PRWG)-K website was obtained from published reports on extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances published by human rights organizations in Kenya from 2007 to present. This was to ensure aggregated, refined number without duplications on the cases being reported.
The methodology used set definitions and a standardized criterion, which is rigid to ensure consistency, validity and accuracy in the numbers being reported. To ensure the veracity of the data, the process of data collection was to compile all reports already published by organizations that have done field research and log their work once they fulfil the set criterion of Missing Voice. Once the website starts to receive tips, organizations of the Police Reform Working group have created a referral system to follow-up on the tip. This means they will use the tip to get more information on the incident, conduct interviews, gather information and evidence adhering to the standardized criteria. Once documentation is completed and it meets the evidentiary threshold, it will be published on the website. However, if the incident cannot be corroborated then it will not be published.
Enforced disappearance is a particularly heinous violation of human rights and a crime against international law. Article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), defines the term ‘enforced disappearance’ as: ‘The arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty;
- By agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State;
- Followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person;
- Which places such a person outside the protection of the law.’
Extrajudicial Executions is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process.
According to the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions “shall not be carried out under any circumstances including, but not limited to situations of internal armed conflict, excessive of illegal use of force by a public official or other person acting in official capacity or by a person acting at the instigation, or with the consent or acquiescence of such a person, and situations in which deaths occur in custody.”