River Yala

HAKI Africa has called on the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in Kenya to investigate the perceived dumping of unidentified bodies in River Yala.

The human rights organisation said it has visited Yala and found corpses floating in the river

The mortuary attendant, according to the organisation, confirmed that at least 21 unidentified bodies in the mortuary were brought in from river Yala.

HAKI Africa also said it had a list of 67 victims of enforced disappearances from 2021, and eight so far in 2022.

‘On visiting the local morgue, we counted at least 21 bodies which the mortuary attendant confirmed were from the river’, HAKI Africa said in a letter to ODPP.

‘On the same day, we visited the river spot where locals said bodies are retrieved from. To our shock, we saw two bodies floating in the river, cornered in the rapids’.

The organisation further said, ‘Kenyans need to know the identity of those killed and also who is behind the killings and subsequent dumping of the bodies in River Yala.

‘This raises further concerns about what the police know and why they have not done anything so far to end the trend.

‘By a copy of this letter, we request the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to equally intervene and ascertain whether or not there was involvement of the police in the killings’.

Cases of enforced disappearance have been rising in Kenya, with human rights organisations warning that security forces pursuing counter terrorism operations may be responsible in many instances.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) had reported at least ten cases of enforced disappearance and another ten cases of extrajudicial killings by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) in Kenya.

In its response, the Kenya Police force said it had discovered 19 unidentified bodies dumped in the Yala river over a two-year period.

However, the police dismissed media reports of recent unidentified dead bodies floating in the Yala river.

‘In the last two years, nineteen (19) incidences involving human bodies that have been found dumped in River Yala have been reported to the National Police Service’, the police statement read.

‘This number represents a cumulative body count over the stated period contrary to media reports insinuating all the incidences are a recent occurrence’.

Article 29 of Kenya’s constitution guarantees citizens the right to freedom and security, which includes the right ‘not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause; subjected to torture in any manner, whether physical or psychological; or treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading manner’.

Although Kenya signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance treaty in 2007, the country has yet to ratify it.

However, data from the United States Kenya 2020 Human Rights Report shows that extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances by the government or on behalf of the government and by terrorists were recorded in 2020.

Source: HAKI Africa

Photo source: Boniface Mwangi

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