INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
2021 THEME KENYA: OUR VOICES ARE IRRESISTIBLE
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
This is the main purpose of celebrating International Human Rights Day observed on December 10 every year.
The day was born in 1948 when the United National General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) after the Second World War.
The celebrated six-page text is considered a milestone document which set out, for the first time fundamental human rights to be protected universally.
The document’s premise is that all people, regardless of their race, religion, country of origin or any other factor, are entitled to those rights enshrined within the document.
UDHR is the most translated document with over 530 dialects including sign languages.
Guinness World Records first declared the UDHR the most translated document in November 1999 when the total stood at 298 languages and updated the certification in 2009 when the number reached 370.
The first of its 30 Articles begins: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
However, governments continue to infringe on the rights of its citizenry through systemic commissions and/or omissions. Kenya is not an exception.
With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic; pervasive inequalities was laid bare and injustices against the common mwananchi was at the peak. Police officers enforcing curfew killed many people and left others brutalized.
Furthermore, enforced disappearances, which do not currently have a legal mechanism to hold perpetrators accountable and provide justice to victims, continue to rise.
2021 THEME KENYA: OUR VOICES ARE IRRESISTIBLE
In light of the above, Missing Voices, a consortium of human rights organizations, planned a panel discussion and a music concert in a bid to find a way forward in addressing cases of enforced disappearances.
The aim of the event is to initiate a process that will eventually see relevant actors set a law to criminalize enforced disappearance, ensure the perpetrators are held liable and to provide redress to the affected.
On Human Rights Day, 10 December, we are choosing to take the path that brings an end to enforced disappearances.
Societies that protect and promote human rights for everyone are more resilient and sustainable, and stand better equipped to weather unexpected crises such as pandemics and the impacts of the climate crisis.
PANEL DISCUSSION THEME: CRIMINALIZING ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES; WHICH WAY FOR KENYA?
Missing voices reports that in 2021, 105 people are victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
In January, there were 7 cases of extrajudicial killings arising out of 7 separate incidents and 3 cases of enforced disappearances.
In February, there were 6 cases of extrajudicial killings and 4 case of enforced disappearances arising out of 8 separate incidents.
In March, there were 10 cases of extrajudicial killings and 2 cases of enforced disappearances arising out of 6 separate incidents.
In April, there were 7 cases of extrajudicial killings and 1 case of enforced disappearances arising out of 6 separate incidents.
In May, there were 22 cases of extrajudicial killings arising out of 13 separate incidents.
In June, there were 17 cases of extrajudicial killings and 8 cases of enforced disappearances arising out of 20 incidents.
In July, there were 20 cases of extrajudicial killings and 3 cases of enforced disappearances arising out of 15 separate incidents. In August, there were 22 cases of extrajudicial killings and 1 case of enforced disappearances arising out of 21 incidents.
In September, there were 8 cases of extrajudicial killings arising out of 6 incidents.
In October, there were 20 cases of extrajudicial killings and 2 cases of enforced disappearances.
Majority of these victims are male youths from lower-income areas, the police justified the cases as “anti-crime” operations. The data tells a tragic tale of the human loss and the unlawful deprivation of liberty heightened through the criminalization of poverty and fueled by the culture of impunity that is embedded within the National Police Service.
In 2020, 167 Kenyans were killed or disappeared in police custody. The number represents 157 incidents of extrajudicial killing and 10 cases of enforced disappearances.
The 167 cases were a result of 131 separate incidents. 83% of the cases have not been investigated, 3.5% have led to the arrest of the perpetrators and 7% are under investigation by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.
With less than a year before the 2022 elections there is need for an open and candid discussion with concerned agencies in the criminal justice system with the aim of raising awareness of the chilling statistics of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and finding solutions to the injustice.
PURPOSE OF THE PANEL DISCUSSION
- Introduce Missing Voices and present the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances findings of 2020 and 2021.
- Raise awareness on enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
Identify the cause for enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
- Identify challenges in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings cases.
- Conceive solutions to eradicating enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
- Curate solutions to curate ensure the effective investigation, prosecution and adjudication of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances cases.
- Promote peace and unity ahead of the 2022 general elections.
- The Director of Public Prosecutions
- Chairperson, Independent Policing and Oversight Authority
- The Director, Internal Affairs Unit
- Representative from Judiciary criminal division.
- Representative from Missing Voices
- Representative of Victims and Survivors
After the panel discussion, there shall be a live concert; to artistically portray the current situation, empower people and spark a discussion on human rights violations.
The performances will be by local artists mostly based in informal settlements where enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are most prevalent.
The performances will include; Spoken word, Songs, rap, poems, dances etc.