Artists contribute to struggle to end enforced disappearances and police killings
Artists are a vital part of the struggle to end Enforced Disappearances and police killings, according to Missing Voices Coalition Coordinator, Alexander Mbela.
Mbela made the remarks in an interview with Kass TV, where he elucidated the partnership between Missing Voices and artists.
“A lot of the people who are affected by police killings and Enforced Disappearances are the youth. 18-35 year olds,” said Mbela. “And it’s not to mean the other age groups aren’t affected, but the youth are the majority. So, as a consortium, we involve artists to reach the youth better to sensitize them on ways to protect themselves and what to do to avid instances that put them in such problems.”
Mbela went ahead to explain the Constitutional provisions regarding the justice system, which has been abused by rogue police officers in many instances.
He noted that criminal suspects have a right to be tried in a court of law, which would hear and determine the case at hand.
“When any youth is disappeared or killed by police for a crime they are suspected of committing, how then will we know if they ready committed the crime or not, if they were not taken to court and given a chance to defend themselves? Isn’t that what the Constitution prescribes? Innocent until proven guilty. That is what we are fighting for,” explained Mbela.
He went further on to point out the problem of perceiving youth from poor backgrounds as potential criminals.
In many instances, the youth who were disappeared or killed by police were from humble backgrounds, often living in informal settlements.
“If you look at residents of the ghetto or informal settlements, there is what we call criminalization of poverty,” he said.
“Is it only youth who live in the ghetto who are criminals? Don’t the children of rich people also commit crime? Then why aren’t those arrested? Why aren’t they arrested as frequently as the others? This means, those who live in informal settlements are more overwhelmed by the system.”
Missing Voices collects data on Enforced Disappearances and police killings every year. The Coalition aims to shine light on these grave concerns and play an active role towards ending them.