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Drugs and police in Mathare, by Lucy Wambui

Lucy Wambui, is an activist based in Mathare and member of MSJC.

Drug use among young people in Nairobi’s slums is on the rise. Youth also face arbitrary arrests by the police, resulting in jail time which turns them into hardcore criminals in a vicious cycle.

Those who have lived in Mathare know the various challenges faced by the many people that call this place home. When I say Mathare, I mean the whole six wards in Mathare. We lack basic services and needs; there is poor sanitation, a lack of proper housing, and a lack of jobs mostly for our youths. Many of us also count ourselves lucky if we have food every day.

At the same time, youth between 9-30 years are now increasingly using drugs. And I want to highlight why they are into drugs, where they get the money for drugs, and how this makes them a target of police abuse of power, including: extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, extortion, and arbitrary arrests.

The connection between drugs and crime among the youths in Mathare is seen, for instance, when they involve themselves in criminal activities like petty robbery in order to get money to buy drugs. Criminals also use drugs as a form of boosting confidence before they get into crime. At the same time, due to arbitrary arrests happening daily within the slums, youths are detained on allegations of drug use and trafficking, which land them in jail. After they are released, they come out being hardcore criminals, involving themselves more in crime.

Being born and brought up in a family that sells and uses drugs creates an environment for one to get into crime as well. This is even if your family are selling “illegal” alcohol and drugs to make ends meet; there are barely any jobs for us from Mathare, and our mothers selling chang’aa has enabled us to eat and go to school. But the addiction that comes about, even when one just started with small doses, can change one’s life completely. For example, Sandra, a woman I know said:

I am a mother of two and I am in my late twenties. My addition started when I was just a young girl. My mother used to sell chang’aa [illegal alcohol] and sell shash [marijuana]. I first indulged in drugs when I was just eight years old and I would take the drugs unnoticed and use them without anyone knowing. My thirst for money and harder drugs increased, and I started spiking the drinks of the clients who came to drink in our home, and I would steal from them any valuables I would find like watches, money, phones, and any other thing that would equate to cash. That’s how I got myself into crime and to date I still go to the big bars and clubs, and when I see an easy prey, I spike their drink and run away with anything I could lay my hands on. The desire for money and addiction to drugs is what makes me do this. I blame my mum for this because were it not for the environment she brought me up in I would have studied, and I would be a better person in the society.

But depression and life situations also can influence us to use drugs. Halima (20), a single mother from Mathare also shared that:

When I was just a small girl my dad was killed by the police after he was labeled a criminal. After my father was killed, me and my brother were raised by a single mum and life was not easy for us. At the age of 15 I got married and got a child. When my child was two years old my brother got arrested and jailed. My husband had a road accident the following year and died. I was left to raise my kid alone and this drove me to depression, and I started using drugs. It got so serious to the extent that I was not able to raise my kid and my mother-in-law took him to raise him.

We can see that the government also has a role to play, they create and sustain this negative environment. When I interacted with most youths here in Mathare, I understood why the Kenyan authorities and young men in the slums play a cat and mouse game: they are like water and oil, they can never mix. According to most youths in the area, they say that instead of police officers maintaining law and order and protecting life, they make crime increase. The police are the ones who provide guns to them to go and commit crimes, and police get money from drug dens, ensuring that drugs are always sold where poor people can see them, where poor people live.

At the same time, the police are arresting youths daily using fabricated charges, and some end up being disappeared and others are killed by police. This makes youths get into crime and use drugs because they have given up on life, and they don’t know who will be next in the hands of a killer cop.

The protection of drug peddlers is also enabled by many people “in high places,” who protect them and protect their interests. These people have both interests in drugs and in crime and stopping any of these businesses would definitely cost them a lot. These peddlers include politicians, the police and the so-called local business community.

It is said that politicians are the ones who own these drugs, and they have to protect the people who sell them to ensure that there is regular flow of cash. These politicians are the ones who benefit most from criminal groups, and the ones who do nothing when we are killed. They use the petty drug dealers to cause mayhem during campaigns and other political functions, by just giving them some drugs and little cash that can make them go wild. And the police know both the politicians and those who sell drugs. But for them they make it a profit: they go to these dens daily collecting cash, which people call ushuru [taxes] or tango, and if they target anyone, they target the young men peddlers trying to make ends meet not the politicians.

The taxes they get, given out by the peddlers and other members of the “business community,” are costs for protection, making sure that drugs can be sold another day. And it is the poor who suffer the most because of these profits, like Halima and Sandra, when their families are torn apart.

Original article can be found at Africa is a Country here.

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Kenya A Prison Notebook

“Written 25 years ago, Kenya: A Prison Notebook has inspired generations and proved a great resource and a handbook in political education in Kenya and beyond. It chronicles Maina Wa Kinyatti’s arrest and detention by the Moi regime and powerfully captures Kenya’s history. Maina wa Kinyatti was then a university professor and foremost researcher on the Mau Mau (Kenya Land and Freedom Army), the liberation movement that engaged the British colonialists in the armed struggle for land and freedom. In 1982, he was arrested by state agents for ‘possession of seditious material’ and detained by the Moi regime. Maina wrote Kenya: A Prison Notebook over the course of the next six and half years he spent in detention – mostly in solitary confinement. Maina’s work and writing remain a constant and painful reminder that the objectives of the freedom struggle the Mau Mau engaged in are yet to be achieved. Kenya is a neo-colonial state. Her economy is in the hands of global capital and imperialism, while constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms are everyday blatantly disregarded with impunity. Maina’s generation continued with the struggle for a better society and showed great courage by confronting a regime that was prepared to go to any lengths to suppress dissenting voices. Today, another generation is continuing with that struggle in fulfillment of its historical responsibility.

Through this collection of reflections on Kenya: A Prison Notebook, young comrades from various movements and organizations interrogate the lived reality and material conditions of their generation whilst relating them to past struggles and experiences. They reflect on a range of themes; including the purpose of education as a tool for liberation or bondage; the unfinished task of national liberation; intergenerational inheritance of social struggles in Kenya; not forgetting the pain, courage, patriotism, and organizing reflected in the book. These reflections are a celebration of Maina wa Kinyatti and all those who engaged in struggles for a better Kenya and Afrika. They additionally are an urgent reminder of the need to organize more than ever given the lived reality and material conditions of our people – those living in deprivation, those whose rights are suppressed and freedoms infringed. They are a reminder that struggle, like change, is a constant. These reflections were inspired by a conversation-on at Ukombozi Library between Gacheke Gachihi, Nicholas Mwangi, and Brian Mathenge.A Luta continua! Sungu Oyoo – Editor

Full PDF of the Book can be found here.

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Nigel Topping, UN Climate Champion of Climate Change Visiting Mathare MSJC and Mathare Green Movement

Nigel Topping recently appointed UK High-Level Climate Action Champion visits Mathare Social Justice Centre to speak with MSJC members or ecological justice. Showing support for the Mathare Green Movement, a campaign to bring dignity to the lives of people through environmental justice.

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Social Justice Reggae Kiamaiko: ‘Ndoto Za Mau Mau’

By Lena Anyuolo

Music as a form of art has been used as a progressive tool for educating and organizing the oppressed masses. Reggae music has played a crucial role in educating the people towards self-emancipation, progressive organizing and a collective awakening to end neo-colonialism and imperialism. ‘Watoto Wanasay’ will be a segment of the reggae session that will allow children in the community to be seen and heard as critical members of the community.

The first session of the ‘Reggae Mtaani’ series was held on 14th November 2020 at Al-Jazeera, Kiamaiko. The host centre was the Kiamaiko Community Justice Centre. Reggae Mtaani is a community organizing tool that aims at bringing community members towards collective reflection and collective action against marginalisation. The organizing principles are self-emancipation, resistance, restoration, redemption, liberation and celebration.

The thematic topics discussed during the session at Aljazeera were forced evictions and land injustices, gender based violence, extrajudicial executions, constitutionalism, social justice, the language of our music and ecological justice. It was also a celebration  of our history where we paid homage to freedom fighters, using this collective memory of the struggle to reflect on where we have come from and the task of our generation to realise ‘Ndoto za Mau Mau’ (the dreams of Mau Mau).

Under the segment ‘Watoto Wanasay’, we tackled children’s rights and gave children in the community a chance to have the mic to give their opinion on the positive changes needed in the community.

Reggae Mtaani  also celebrated the unsung heroes in the community such as garbage collectors, community health workers, human rights activists and the women who run the coffee and jaba bases in Kiamaiko, which are valued as communal meeting spaces for relaxation, organising and psychosocial healing.

Reggae Mtaani deconstructed the negative stereotype often used to criminalize the youth using the narrative that falsely equates jabaration, reggae music and youth bases with ‘illegal activity.’ It showed the community that a congregation where reggae music is played does not have to be a funeral or a night club, but a space where our collective consciousness is raised for self emancipation, restoration, resistance, redemption and celebration.

Reggae Mtaani was conceptualized and brought to life through the collective  effort of members of  Social Justice Centres. The activity at Aljazeera was coordinated by: MSJC- Antony ‘Kanare’ Muoki, Kinuthia Mwangi, Lena Anyuolo; DJ Talanta: ‘The one hand DJ’ was the main deejay for the event; Githurai and Ghetto radio – Edgar ‘Liberator’ Ogutu who MC’d the event and provided key information on the logistics and structure of the day; comrades from Kiamaiko Social Justice Centre who provided the chairs and hosted the activity; Al Jazeera  Group and Voice of Kiamaiko provided the venue, event marshals, and co-hosted the activity; the broader Social Justice Network in Mathare provided the sound system; and EBTI Sacco provided transportation for the equipment.

A notable success of the activity is that it was not funded, relying wholly on available resources from individuals, groups in the community and the social justice centres.

Besides members of the Kiamaiko community, the following social justice centres were also represented by their members – Kiamaiko, Ruaraka, Mathare, Ghetto Foundation, Kayole, Komarock, Githurai, Dandora and Kamukunji.

Reggae Mtaani will be a series of weekly reggae sessions held every Sunday in different ghettos in Nairobi. The sessions will be hosted by the various social justice centres within Nairobi’s informal settlements.

The next vibration will be hosted by the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC).

To all our comrades, men an women actively engaged in the struggle, we say this: “Continue Organizing. ORGANIZE. ORGANIZE. ORGANIZE!” AMANDLA!

See pictures from the first session below:

 

 

 

 

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Citizens’ Demands by the Social Justice Movement in Kenya

Nairobi, July 8, 2020 

To: 

Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta 

President of the Republic of Kenya 

Harambee House 

 

Re: Citizens’ Demands 

 

WE members of the Social Justice Movement in Kenya; 

PURSUANT to article 1 of the Constitution of Kenya 2020, which recognizes us as Sovereigns and the source of all State authority, 

HAVING wished to present to you our petition on the 30th anniversary of Saba Saba yesterday; 

HAVING been violently disrupted by policemen sent by your administration to violate our constitutionally protected rights and freedoms including the right to peaceful assembly, expression and protest; 

FURTHER HAVING addressed various offices within your administration and received no meaningful attention; 

UNDERSTANDING that you have violated the Constitution on numerous occasion including failing to protect the lives of all Kenyans especially those of us from poor and neglected informal settlements; 

RECOGNIZING that you have taken everything from us including our dreams for a better future through institutionalized corruption; 

HAVING little to live for under your administration; 

READY AND WILLING to die for Justice, our Constitution and our Communities; 

DO NOW wish to address you and demand as follows; 

1. THAT you should understand that you are our leader and not ruler 

2. THAT we are sovereign citizens and not your subjects 

3. THAT implementation of the Constitution is not a choice but a duty for you and all of us 

4. THAT you have no right to mutilate our Constitution for narrow and selfish political interest to the detriment of the rest of the 50 million Kenyans 

5. THAT we demand that stop the BBI process immediately; implement the Constitution in full; no excuses! Tekeleza Katiba sasa! 

6. THAT you must direct the BBI budget to services that Kenyans really need especially provision of water, food, sanitation and healthcare 

7. THAT you must respect and Implement the Bill of Rights without any qualification or exception – Kenyans rights are not a privilege for you to regulate; they are an entitlement and we are ready to die for them 

8. THAT you must stop killing us – terminate and prosecute all the Officers Commanding Police Stations that have contracted extrajudicial killings in Nairobi and across the country; terminate and prosecute all the Police officers who have participated, abetted or aided extrajudicial killings; terminate and prosecute all the Police officers who have concealed and/or compromised investigations on extrajudicial killings 

9. THAT you must stop playing the game of musical chairs with criminal police officers; you must stop transferring them from one police station to another; we demand that they every rogue police officer must be terminated, prosecuted and those found guilty jailed; all of them 

10. THAT you must stop criminalizing youth and poverty; stop it immediately 

11. THAT you must stop weaponizing COVID 19 against Kenyans; stop police harassment and extortion of Kenyans; we demand a proper record of all resource that have been raised to help Kenyans deal with the pandemic; and we demand prosecution of all those who have stolen resources meant for communities and Kenyans from the local level to the national government 

We are tired of being victims and being terrorized by criminal state violence! If you do not respect our existence, expect our revolt! 

We demand and expect to hear from you within the next 7 days, failure to which we shall be back in the streets… and this time we shall not get out of the streets until something yields! 

For and on behalf of Social Justice Movement in Kenya; (see downloadable version here: SJCWG Citizens Demands)

Wilfred Olal 

Convener, Social Justice Centres Working Group 

0722746164 

Faith Kasina 

Convener, Social Justice Centres Working Group 

0723133329 

CC: 

All Sovereign Citizens of Kenya 

National Assembly of Kenya through the Speaker 

The Senate of the Republic of Kenya through the Speaker 

President of the Supreme Court and The Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya 

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights 

 

 

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Press Release: Saba Saba March For Our Lives – Tekeleza Katiba

30/06/2020

PRESS RELEASE

SABA SABA MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: TEKELEZA KATIBA

Introduction

Members of the press, comrades in the struggle and community members, today we are gathered here at Kayole Community Justice Centre, to launch a series of activities geared towards our annual March in quest for justice famously dubbed as “saba saba march for our lives”.

The previous marches have been organised around injustices that we are faced with collectively from the communities that we come from, nothing has changed only that this time round we aren’t marching to the historic Kamukunji grounds but rather to Harambee avenue to present our grievances to the head of state whom the buck stops with, and is constitutional mandated to safeguard our wellbeing as a nation and not a chosen few.

The following are the issues we need to bring to his immediate attention

 

Police Brutality, Extrajudicial Executions and Enforced Disappearances

Despite the extensive input deployed towards police reforms, the police force remains a scare and a threat to the existence of many innocent lives in our informal settlements. The rise in extrajudicial killings in our settlements is a worrying trend that has left many citizens disheartened. The deliberate shooting of innocent lives and petty offenders without a second thought is the reality we are faced with on daily basis. The saddening bit is that only those cases highlighted by the media are the ones given attention whereas justice is denied to the larger section of the victims.

Equally, a worrying trend of enforced disappearance is emerging within our informal settlements as the new form of dispensing justice to suspects by the police. Such trends have been observed in Dandora, Kariobangi, Korogocho, Githurai and Kiamaiko. In this regard, we are still yet to receive any substantive information on the Kiamaiko three who disappeared on March 24th on their way from Thika.

Those who are lucky not to have fallen victim of EJE yet aren’t off the hook; they are faced with the scare of assault, extortion or harassment in the hands of the very ones bestowed with the duty to protect them.

 

Violation of Article 43

Despite the Constitution granting every citizen with rights to basic needs, i.e. water, food, shelter, housing, health, education and social security, we continue to witness the violations of these rights by the government.

Many of the informal settlements go for weeks without water, a basic commodity for survival. Those unlucky are force to walk for long distance in search for water, tagging along their children whereas the other half are left to be exploited by water cartels who sell them water at a fee which is quite expensive. Our attempts to raise this matter with various stakeholders fall on deaf ears with some of our colleagues ending up being arrested and charged in court.

Notwithstanding the scare presented by the covid-19 situation, with the recent demolitions in Kariobangi and Ruai, the government has rendered over 5000 families homeless, turning many to scavenging for food for survival.

Better healthcare still remains a mirage and a privilege of the rich. The status of our local facilities need immediate ICU like attention by the state and the county governments.

It is also important to note that the current pandemic we are faced has resulted in many being rendered unemployed, which has expanded the already bulged basket of the unemployed. Yet the intervention given by the government offers little or no hope to those unemployed, who are struggling for survival in the informal sector, but rather hope to medium sized businesses with sizeable capital. The already overburdened citizens are faced with an increase in VAT and the introduction of hustlers/mama mboga tax.

Funny enough, there are no jobs for the youths other than clearing trenches, but commissions and committees are formed to accommodate the old political allies of the states

 

Shrinking Civic Space

All indications are clear that the democratic curve in the country is gravitating towards dictatorship despite the previous milestones we have made to secure the space.

The unlawful takeover of Nairobi County by the NMS and bestowing it to the military, the silencing of parliament by executive and the struggling  judiciary are all indicators that our future as a nation is worrying.

Citizens are denied the right to assemble and organise whereas a section of the political class are favoured and accorded the to right to assemble.

 

Tekeleza Katiba

We do believe that the solutions to all our problems are entrenched in the Constitution and we demand for its full implementation and nothing else.

 

Saba Saba March for Our Lives.

Just like the previous two marches that have been very peaceful and nonviolent, we assure the Kenyan citizens that this year’s march shall equally be peaceful. We request the police to grant us our constitutional right to march against injustices and present our petition to the office of the president. We also ask the police for protection like they have done in the previous marches.

Thank you

Social Justice Movement

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Mathare Social Justice Centre strongly condemns the “visit” of known killer cop Rashid and two police officers to our centre on June 30, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

On Tuesday, June 30 at 11 am, Rashid, the known killer policeman from Pangani police station came to Mathare Social Justice Centre with two of his colleagues; Rashid and one of the other policemen were in civilian clothing and the other police officer was in a full blue suit.

After introducing themselves, they said they had come to “lodge a complaint” against a person called “Ali” who had supposedly been discrediting Rashid on social media. Because of this they demanded to see the leadership of the organization. Jennifer, our administrative officer, and Lucy Wambui, an MSJC human rights monitor, were in the office, and said they did not know Ali. It is important to note that Lucy Wambui’s husband, Christopher “Maich” Maina, was killed by Rashid in 2017. A witness to Maich’s killing was also killed by Rashid in 2018.

After saying they did not know Ali, thereafter Rashid said that he knows that many people come to MSJC to complain about him, and he wants to speak with our leadership to share “his side of the story.” Him and his colleagues also asked for tea, and Rashid emphasized more than three times that he wanted to be served by Lucy Wambui.

As a police officer, Rashid is certainly aware of the legal avenues to lodge a complaint, therefore we consider his request an excuse to enter our space and intimidate us. Above all, since MSJC has been documenting the killings of youth by the police in Mathare since 2015, a large number of these killings which have been done by Rashid himself, we can only interpret his visit to the MSJC office to “lodge a complaint” as a threat to our members.

What’s more, as the Social Justice Centres work on planning the Saba Saba March For Our Lives against police killings, enforced disappearances and all forms of state violence, his visit at this time also counts as intimidation as we build towards this important March.

We demand that the National Police Service ((NPS) and Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) take this threat on MSJC seriously. We also urge other relevant grassroots and civil society actors to stand in solidarity with MSJC at this time.

We continue strongly in our commitment to demand justice and dignity for all victims of police violence.

In solidarity,

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC)

 

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MSJC statement after Huruma Police Station Officers threaten Rahma Wako, Demtila Gwala Wairimu and Kimani Mburu

Mathare Social Justice Centre Statement after Huruma Police Station Officers threaten Human Rights Defenders Rahma Wako, Demtila Gwala Wairimu and Kimani Mburu

27 May 2020

Mathare Social Justice Centre strongly condemns the threats directed at three human rights defenders who are members of two social justice centres: Kiamaiko Community Justice Centre (KCJC) and Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC). These activists are: Rahma Wako, Demtila Gwala Wairimu and Kimani Mburu.

These three committed human rights defenders (HRDs) have been involved in human rights activism in Huruma ward and Mathare Constituency as a whole for over a decade. More recently they been involved in demanding justice for Yasin Moyo, the 13-year-old boy killed on his balcony by the police on March 30, demanding answers after the disappearances of Michael Njau, Adan Mohammed Sibu and Samuel Mungai, and supported the family of 2-month old baby Asnat who required hospitalization and breathing support after the police threw a teargas canister into her house on Friday May 22.

Since they created awareness about these cases, and especially since they took the family of Asnat to Huruma police station to record a statement on Tuesday May 26, these three activists have been receiving threats from officers at the Huruma Police Station.

We demand that the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and the National Police Services (NPS) investigate these threats and help maintain the safety of the three activists. In addition, we call on all citizens, activists and organizations who believe in social justice to demand an end to the police victimization of all Kenyans and support grassroots organizations and social justice centres as we work to ensure the safety of Rahma Wako, Demtila Gwala Wairimu and Kimani Mburu. (statement also available here MSJC statement after threats to 3 HRDs – May 27 2020)

In solidarity,

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC)

 

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“War against the poor and youth”: Video of UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard Solidarity Visit to Mathare

In February 2020, Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitration executions, came to Mathare to take part in a community-led conference that focused on the rampant extrajudicial killings of the poor in Nairobi. We greatly appreciated her solidarity visit, and we continue together to demand justice for our people.  In this video she talks about this visit, and the “war against the poor and youth” that Kenya and other states are waging. We thank Peace Brigades International for their work to bring Agnes Callamard to our community. See the video below.

https://youtu.be/3S3nAWaad5g

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Police Reforms Working Group (PRWG) Statement on the disappearances of our comrades: Michael Njau, Adan Mohammed Saibu & Samuel Mungai

As we continue to look for our comrades from Kiamaiko who were last seen on April 24, please read and share the statement below by the Police Reforms Working Group. This statement is available here: 2020 May 1 PRWG Kiamaiko3 disappearances

We continue to search for them across the County, and hope they will be back to their families soon.

Disappearances of Michael Njau, Adan Mohammed Saibu and Samuel Mungai 

Joint Statement by twenty Human Rights Organisations 

#Kiamaiko3 

1 May 2020 

Twenty human rights organisations under the auspices of the Police Reforms Working Group have raised alarm following the disappearance of Michael Njau, Adan Mohammed Saibu and Samuel Mungai. 

Reported missing on 24th April 2020 to Thika Police Station, the three men have been mysteriously missing for six days. The three were last seen in Thika town while driving back to Nairobi. They were driving in a car hire Silver Ractis registration number KCX 843M. 

The car owner reported the matter at Githurai Kimbo Police Station on 26th April 2020 and Githurai Mwiki Police Station. The vehicle has since been moved to Thika Police Station for inspection where a missing person report was initially filed. 

It has been close to a week since their families have reported their disappearance to the police. There has been no official information on the progress of the investigation. The twenty human rights organisations remind the law enforcement agencies of a number of cases of disappearances of human rights defenders. Michael Njau is an active community leader and member of the Kiamaiko Social Justice Centre. 

Family, friends and human rights defenders are engaged in an active search for the three men. They have visited twenty-six police stations and twelve hospitals and morgues across Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos in the last five days. 

Every moment now counts. We acknowledge current efforts by the combined arms of the investigation, police and law enforcement agencies. We call on them to intensify their actions to ensure the safety and return of the three missing persons. We also call on the public to report any information to the local Police Station and 0716261113/0722926732. 

This statement is endorsed by members of the Police Reforms Working Group, an alliance of several organisations committed to professional and rule of law policing. They include the Social Justice Centres Working Group, International Justice Mission, Independent Medical Legal Unit, Katiba Institute, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Defenders Coalition, Haki Africa, Amnesty International Kenya, International Centre for Transitional Justice, The Kenyan Section of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya), Usalama Reforms Forum, Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA-K) Legal Resources Foundation, Transparency International Kenya, Shield For Justice, Wangu Kanja Foundation, Peace Brigades International and Katiba Institute 

 

 

 

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