Rights defenders and political leaders have made allegations of disappearances in Northern Kenya, the coastal region and Nairobi.
Kenya Police Spokesman Charles Owino says they have registered cases of youths who have fled to the war torn Somalia to join the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab militia.
“We know a number of youths are missing… some have been killed during attacks there. We have parents telling us their youths are in Somalia,” he said.
Owino said according to intelligence reports, some youths in Somalia have been hoodwinking their relatives that they had been kidnapped by the police.
“They are lost…we don’t want to discriminate anybody…we have no policy to kill anyone!”
In an interview with Capital FM News on Friday, Owino cautioned against making such remarks saying other than being baseless, they will serve to radicalise more youths.
“The term extra-judicial killing is a term that is being misused…it can only mean it’s a policy by the government which is not,” he asserted.
He called for patriotism for all those who advocate for human rights and members of the public saying, “It does not mean you stop questioning when things go wrong.”
Owino was however quick to admit that yes police were also not ‘angels’ and that’s why the Police Internal Affairs Unit and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority exist.
He gave an example of two police officers arrested during the week in Eastleigh area after they allegedly engaged in robbery.
He advised those harbouring complaints against the police service to report to the two units and more so IPOA – which an independent body monitoring the police.
“If you cannot trust us, there is IPOA,” he pointed out.
A section of political leaders from Northern Kenya and activists led by Al-Amin Kimathi have alleged that a number of youths had fallen victim to police brutality.
Owino however accused them of not being loyal to the country while urging members of the public to support police in fighting terror as the threat remains real.
He challenged human rights defenders to speak against radicalisation instead of demonising the police service.
“As a service, we have no business in killing anybody. We want people alive,” he said. “We are interested in arresting people alive so that we can get information.”
He cautioned, “Our brothers and sisters (activists) who are going to beg for money in the name of advocating for rights to be fair to the nation and themselves.”
Human rights defenders have since started a countrywide awareness campaign meant to sensitise terror suspects on the need to honour police summons.
Wajir West Member of Parliament Abdikadir Ore Ahmed on Monday said the campaign will help in sealing loopholes that may lead to excessive use of force during arrest and interrogation of terror suspects.
“We have come to create awareness so that Kenyans and the world know about their rights which are enshrined in the Constitution,” he stated.
“We want to fight terrorism so that we have a safe Kenya that we can live in peace and harmony.”
During an interview with Capital FM News, the Wajir West legislator lamented that tens of terror suspects have been reported missing.
He alleges that some have been found dead while the whereabouts of others is yet to be known.
READ: Activists launch drive against ‘disappearing’ terror suspects
Ahmed is already working on a petition over the matter where “relatives will be called upon to give testimonies to the committee on security and administration so that the Interior Secretary can be taken to task.”
The MP alleges that suspects have been mishandled in the process of fighting terror; a move he cautions may end up “radicalising youths further.”
On his part Kimathi has called for an all inclusive approach in dealing with violent extremism and terror while cautioning that forceful arrests may affect the war on terror negatively.
“Many people fear that they may disappear if such summonses are made by police…we want to support the police efforts in fighting terrorism but in the manner provided by the law,” he pointed out advising anybody who is summoned to be accompanied by lawyers and other witnesses.