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International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances Comes with Calls for Justice in Kenya

Marking International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, a local artist and children's group from Mathare Social Justice Centre in Kenya performed a song to commemorate those killed by police and call for justice.

The video calls out 115 cases of police killings and enforced disappearances in the first eight months of 2020, documented by Missing Voices, and includes appeals from citizens to the government for justice.

This past June marked four years since the deaths of Willie Kimani, a lawyer with IJM, his client Josephat Mwenda and driver Joseph Muiruri. They were abducted while leaving court after a hearing for a case in which Josephat was facing false charges from police.

On the fourth anniversary of the abduction, Aggrey Juma, Policy and Advocacy Manager for IJM Kenya, wrote an article calling for enforced disappearances to be criminalized. Four police officers and once civilian are currently on trial for the murder of Willie, Joseph and Josephat, but in cases in which no body is found, there is no path to justice.

Juma writes in The Star, "This fourth anniversary of the disappearance that culminated in the murder of Wille, Joseph and Josephat is a timely moment for us as a country to reflect on policy reform needed to ensure accountability for perpetrators of enforced disappearance...for the National Assembly, it is an opportune time to pass legal provisions that expressly criminalise and prescribe sentences for the crime of enforced disappearance."

Kenya has recently enacted a promising policy to protect civilians from baseless charges, known as The Decision to Charge. The request for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into cases of enforced disappearances has been made to the President of Kenya, and Missing Voices is currently collecting signatures to a petition to criminalize enforced disappearances.

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