On January 28th, 2016, HBS Nairobi convened a panel of practitioners to discuss the relationship between civilians and the police in a discussion dubbed “Missing Voices”. The goal was to bring in a diverse panel to give voice to victims of police brutality and violence, but also the police, in order to point out some of the contextual issues that have led to an alarming rate of police brutality in the country and completely eroded the trust between individuals and police.
The panel was composed of L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Regional Director for Amnesty international in East Africa; Wanjeri Nderu, a social media activist and the founder of the Empowering Communities Community Organisation and Ruth Mumbi, a community organiser and activist, and moderated by Yvonne Okwarah from the Kenya Television Network. Although the police were invited to be part of the panel, they declined the invitation, but the conversation still managed to highlight many of the challenges faced by the police force in the line of duty.
The well attended panel was stimulating and informative, given the participant’s vast expertise in the issues and their passion for victims’ rights and public education. Public conversations on contentious issues such as these are rare in Kenya, and it was evident from the levels of participation that the forum was fulfilling a very important need in the country. More than simply picking a position and reinforcing it, the panellists unpacked the core issues and put a human face to it, showing that police brutality is a deeply troubling and particularly grotesque human rights violation. Those who attended commented that they felt better informed and therefore better empowered to respond or react to cases of police brutality.
The full recording of the panel is embedded below. HBS Nairobi is grateful to everyone who participated in this forum will continue engaging with these and other partners on raising and discussing important issues.