, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – A new report by the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) shows that juveniles aged below 18 years at 78.1 per cent are among the main victims targeted by kidnappers in the country.
The report covering last year rates kidnapping as a major emerging security challenge in the country while calling for the strengthening of the Children Protection Unit, which falls under the National Police Service.
According to the report, revenge is the major socio-cultural motive for kidnappings, ransom payment is the major economic motive while reducing political rivalry is the major political motive for the vice.
Attorney General Githu Muigai says kidnapping “is becoming pervasive and its many negative effects on Kenya’s social and economic fabric can be felt at different tiers of public life.”
“The ripple effects of kidnappings is undermining peaceful co-existence of communities, scaring investment opportunities by both Kenyans and foreign investors leading to Kenya’s classification by international institutions in the category of countries with high threats of kidnappings,” the AG said.
Therefore, understanding and defining the crime as a national threat is urgent to ensure that agencies in the administration of criminal justice prioritize means and ways of tackling it.
Perpetrators of the vice are youthful Kenyans aged between 18 and 35 years, a factor attributed to the high rate of unemployment.
Other factors include the existence of gangs and militia, retrogressive cultural practices, instability and conflicts in some regions, corruption among some members of the security system, political competition and rivalry, marginalization of some areas, proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons and competition for control of resources.
The most prevalent types are kidnapping committed by a stranger, an acquaintance, one where a person is forced to withdraw money from an Automated Teller Machine and inside kidnapping, which is committed by a family member.
– Modes of executing kidnappings –
Kidnappings are mainly executed by groups of kidnappers; “using illegal arms and weapons against victims to a large extent; by use of force to get their victims; and by enticing and luring the victims.
Victims are mostly kidnapped when going home, when on duty or in their business premises and when closing their businesses.”
According to the report, kidnappings committed by a stranger were more prevalent in Murang’a County followed by Kirinyaga and Migori.
Kidnapping committed by an acquaintance was more prevalent in Kirinyaga followed by Murang’a and Nyeri while being kidnapped and forced to withdraw money from an ATM was more prevalent in Nyeri County followed by Nairobi and Murang’a.
Nairobi County was leading in “inside kidnapping” followed by Nyeri and Nakuru.
Kidnapping committed by a family member was more prevalent in Nyeri, Kirinyaga, and Nairobi.
The virtual kidnapping was more prevalent in Nairobi, Nyeri, and Kirinyaga. This occurs when a kidnapper gets contact and personal information on minors and then he/she calls the parents for ransoms without the child actually being taken.
Victims of kidnappings encountered varied negative treatments and conditions such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, being killed, mental/psychological abuse, confinement and isolation, poor feeding and being drugged.