The profile of a typical kidnapper has made the police both in and out of service as some of the biggest perpetuators of the crime given their knowledge of handling weapons and greater understanding of the criminal justice system
The National Crimes Research Centre some security agencies accused of impunity and being oppressive have been linked to kidnappings and extra-judicial killings in the country. This finding concurred with the other findings which showed that security agents were among the perpetrators of kidnappings in Kenya.
Besides state sanctioned kidnappings, former security officials are also thought to be leading perpetuators of the crimes leading NCRC to recommend to the intelligence service to keep track of former police.
“There is an ardent need to create a database of ex-public and private security officers and to undertake monitoring of their activities by the National Intelligence Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Kenya Private Security Association in case some may be tempted to get into crime after exiting service,” the NCRC study recommends.
Police have over the decades have gained notoriety for corruption and extortion excessive use of force and disappearance of criminals.
While kidnappings is somewhat tolerated within the force, even assumed as policy as was the case of the Yala River where police are accused of disappearing over 112 victims when the police leave the force they are most likely to engage in kidnappings for ransom.
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Reports by Human Rights activists such as Haki Africa, based in Mombasa, shows that the Coast leads with the highest number of extrajudicial disappearances mostly linked to anti-terrorism activity.
Enforcement of Covid-19 containment measures, also sparked a wave of reckless policing when, police in Kianjokoma town, Embu County, eastern Kenya, detained two brothers Emmanuel Marura Ndwiga, 19, and Benson Njiru Ndwiga, 22, for violating the 10pm to 4 am curfew. The two were found dead three days later.
Activists and lawyers have often put up a spirited fight to end the cycle of police killings and disappearance but the reforms often fail to live past the memory of a prominent killing.
In 2021 Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid challenged the government to ratify the international convention against enforced disappearances and adopt laws to outlaw such activities in Kenya.
Although President William Ruto who ascended in power promising to end extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, even ordering the disbandment of a special police unit notorious for kidnappings, he has struggled to end the practice.
The police force has done little to stop extrajudicial killings and disappearances with the Kenya police involved in killing 12 people, including children in the march opposition demonstrations.