Where is Taimur? Family probes Anti-Terror Police Unit

Have you seen him?

Taimur Hussein

"The past four weeks have been hell for me and my family. I am currently looking through mortuaries. I have tried to play fair. I have gone to court. I have hit a dead end. Please help us create awareness about what happens to people who look like my brother."

That is the caption of Fauziya Hussein's pinned tweet on her twitter page. For more than a month now Fauziya and the rest of her family have been in agony, desperately searching for their lost kin, Taimur Kariuki Hussein.

On Friday, June 11 Taimur was stopped in Lamu by men in civilian clothing who later identified themselves as Anti Terror Police Unit officers. They claimed that the 39 year old had been on police radar for a while.

Taimur was beaten and taken to Lamu police station where he was charged with resisting arrest. He remained in police custody and was denied access to a phone call until Monday, June 14 when he was arraigned in court.

The family got to learn of their kin's arrest when he called his mother on Monday, the day he was arraigned in court.

According to the family, when they finally got to see him they were shocked! Taimur was badly injured. He had a broken finger, a sling on his right arm, stitches on his head and also complained of pain on his leg.

At the court the officers appealed to the judge to keep him in police custody until Friday, June 18 for further interrogations.

When Taimur was arraigned in court on Friday, his family felt a faint glimmer of hope when the resisting arrest charge was dropped. However, in a sudden gruesome twist, the officers brought up new charges relating to terrorism.

The investigating officers further requested for Taimur to be transferred to ATPU offices in Nairobi for enhanced investigations. Both requests were granted by the court.

In the Constitution of Kenya, arrestees are granted the opportunity to make a telephone call or at least communicate with an advocate. However, Taimur wasn't afforded either. For three days, his family didn't know of his whereabouts.

On Monday, June 21, he was presented before a magistrate in Kahawa Law Courts.

"When we went to Kahawa, my brother looked distraught and bewildered. He had no recollection whatsoever of how he got to Nairobi," said Fauziya.

The police officers holding him asked the magistrate to be allowed to keep Taimur for a further seven days as they conclude their investigations.

On Monday, June 28, there was reprieve for his family when the court ordered the immediate release of their kin. Taimur was scheduled to go back to ATPU head-office at Upper Hill for a final exit interview before his release.

His lawyer, Kinyanjui Kimani informed him that his mother and sister would be there waiting as soon as he was released.

"My mother was at the office on time, however when she asked for my brother's whereabouts, she was informed that he had been released 30 minutes before," explained Fauziya.

“An officer told us that Hussein had called someone in Malindi but when asked to provide the contact, they claimed not to have it even though they had his phone,” Fauziya added.

The officer on duty further stated that they had given Taimur transport money in the sum of sh.1000 to visit his sister, Fauziya at Imara Daima.

“Hussein has never visited me in Nairobi, he does not even know where I stay. Furthermore, even if he knew where I lived, why would he ask for sh.1000 as transport? The distance from Upper Hill to Imara Daima shouldn't amount to all that money." she explained.

Noticing that the police were not cooperating, the family through lawyer Kimani went to the High Court and filed a habeas corpus, requesting the officers to produce Taimur in court either dead or alive.

In response, the ATPU said they had released Taimur as ordered by the Kahawa Law Court on Monday, June 28 therefore they did not know his whereabouts.

"I asked them to provide the CCTV footage indicating his release, to which the police claimed that security footage is often erased every 24 hours. I was shocked." Kimani expressed his disappointment.

ATPU-Human rights violations

In a research conducted in Kenya between November 2013 and June 2014, Human Rights Watch documented at least 10 cases of killings, 10 cases of enforced disappearances, and 11 cases of mistreatment or harassment of terrorism suspects in which there is strong evidence of the ATPU involvement, mainly in Nairobi since 2011.

The counterterrorism unit has not formally acknowledged responsibility for the alleged killings, although in December 2013, an anonymous member of the unit told British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC):

“The justice system in Kenya is not favourable to the work of the police. So we opt to eliminate them [suspects]. We identify you, we gun you down in front of your family."

In 2015, the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights released a preliminary report titled, ‘The Error of Fighting Terror with Terror’.

The report noted that security forces violated the law and provisions of the bill of rights “with pernicious impunity in the ongoing crackdown against terrorism”.

“This report documents over 120 cases of egregious human rights violations that include 25 extrajudicial killings and 81 enforced disappearances.”

"As detailed in the foregoing, these violations are widespread, systematic and well-coordinated and include but are not limited to arbitrary arrests, extortion, illegal detention, torture, killings and disappearances."

It recommended the President acknowledge and condemn the abuses by security agencies and call upon them to ensure respect for the rule of law and human rights in the fight against terrorism.

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which Kenya has signed, states that, “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.”

It acknowledges the ‘extreme seriousness of enforced disappearance, which constitutes a crime and, in certain circumstances defined in international law, a crime against humanity.’

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