Police on the spot over enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – Kenyan security agencies are on the spot following the recent rise in the cases of enforced disappearances and kidnappings in the country.

On Sunday, Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, a scholar and Horn of Africa Analyst who had been abducted by unknown people in Nairobi, was released after more than a week in captivity during which he is reported to have been interrogated on security-related issues touching on the region.

While commenting on his release, HAKI Africa led by its Executive Director Hussein Khalid condemned the kidnapping.

“Prof Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad who was abducted on 8th September 2021 has been freed a week later. He is now reunited with his family. HAKI Africa condemns cases of enforced disappearances,” read a statement from the Mombasa-based human rights organization.

Former National Assembly Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim welcomed his release saying the right to freedom must be upheld.

“Our Brother Dr Abdiwahab Abdisamad has been released. I wish to thank all the defenders of freedom in our country & abroad who stood by our valued Scholar/Warrior for Regional Peace & Stability. We must defend with our last drop of blood our freedom of speech/association,” he said in a tweet.

Reports indicate that Abdisamad, 55, was accosted by four men in Nairobi’s Central Business District on September 8 in broad daylight. He was reportedly handcuffed and forced into a double cabin vehicle before being whisked away to an unknown location.

Another victim, a Mombasa based businessman Abdulhakim Sagar aged 40, who was also abducted on August 18 in Old Town in a similar manner was also released on the same day.  Speaking to journalists Monday, Sagar’s family stated that he was released in Voi and given Sh2,000 for fare  by his abductors.

“Although we are grateful that our brother has been released, we want to stop the repeat of this on anyone because it is torture to the citizens, the family and the victim,” said Faris Sagar, the victim’s brother.

Following their disappearances on diverse dates, leaders and families of both victims appealed to the government to release them and follow the laid-out rules in interrogating and prosecuting suspects.

Abdiwahab’s family together with HAKI Africa and a section of leaders launched a sustained campaign aimed at mounting pressure on the government to release him or reveal his whereabouts.

The victim’s whereabouts remained unknown as his family continued to seek government’s intervention since the identity of the abductors was yet to be known.

The victim’s wife Halima Mohamed stated that her efforts to find her husband had proven futile.

“We have reported we didn’t get any information from anywhere, so we are appealing to the government in case they know the whereabouts of Abdiwahab, if he has done any wrong which he has never done, he has never been to police custody before, they can take him to court,” she said while addressing journalist at the time.

Abdisamad’s wife said the government had an obligation to trace and return him home as they sought the intervention of DCI boss George Kinoti.

Abdisamad’s abduction and detention raised questions on the government’s heavy-handed approach while pursuing suspects linked to terror and other crimes.

While the government remained tight-lipped on the matter, his detention was linked to his stand in regards to the Somalia regional politics and the ongoing maritime boundary dispute between Kenya and Somalia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The border row has led to strained relationship between Nairobi and the Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo-led government.

Rights groups in Kenya have often blamed the government for executing extrajudicial killings in its campaign against terror while pilling pressure on government to follow laid down procedures.

In a statement released on Monday HAKI Africa reported that they had recorded over 32 cases of enforced disappearances, in the country the last eight months.

The rights group called on the international bodies such as the United Nations to intervene on the matter.

“All the evidence is available and if the government wants the evidence, there is enough available that can allow the prosecution of all those involved,” Khalid said.

HAKI Africa recently uncovered at least 11 unidentified and unclaimed bodies  recovered from River Tana on diverse dates over a period of three months.

The human rights organization said examination of the bodies indicated that the victims had been tortured before being killed.

The victims’ hands were also tied and huge stones attached in an apparent plot to sink them.

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