118 people killed by Kenyan police in 2023: rights groupsWed, 24 Apr 2024 08:15:03 GMT

A total of 118 people were the victim of extrajudicial killings by Kenyan police last year, local and international rights groups said in a report published on Wednesday, decrying the “impunity” still enjoyed by the security forces.The figure is down around nine percent from 130 in 2022, while the number of “enforced disappearances” dropped by more than half to 10 over the same period, it said.Almost half of the killings took place during crime-fighting operations, according to the report by organisations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International Kenya and the Kenyan group Missing Voices.Another 45 people were killed during demonstrations staged by the Kenyan opposition between March and July last year to protest at the high cost of living, the groups said.The demonstrations against the government of President William Ruto witnessed sporadic violence and looting, and the opposition and rights groups accused the police of using excessive force.”Police officers rarely get arrested for taking part in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,” Wednesday’s report said.National police spokeswoman Resila Onyango did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment.Since his election in 2022, Ruto has repeatedly said he wants to put an end to violence and illegal practices by law enforcement officers.Kenyan police are often accused by rights groups of using excessive force and carrying out unlawful killings, especially in poor neighbourhoods.They have also been accused in the past of running hit squads targeting those — including activists and lawyers — investigating alleged rights abuses by police.”It is true that we have lost many Kenyans because of extrajudicial killings. It is also true that we have lost many Kenyans because of political assassinations,” Ruto said on Sunday.”There shall never again be extrajudicial killings or political assassinations.”In October 2022, Ruto promised an overhaul of the police service and announced the dismantling of the feared Special Service Unit (SSU) whose members have been accused of enforced disappearances and murders. According to Missing Voices, 1,350 people have died at the hands of law enforcement officers since it began collecting data in 2007.Justice is rare with few examples of police being held to account. In February last year however, three police officers were sentenced to terms ranging from 24 years in prison to the death penalty for the murder in 2016 of three people including a lawyer.