Who are Victims of Forced Disappearance?

Victims of enforced disappearance are people who have literally disappeared from their loved ones and their community. They go missing when state officials (or someone acting with state consent) grab them from the street or their homes and then deny it or refuse to say where they are. Sometimes, disappearances may be committed by armed non-state actors, like armed opposition groups. And it is always a crime under international law. 

These people are often never released, and their fate remains unknown. Victims are frequently tortured, and many are killed or live in constant fear of being killed. They know their families have no idea where they are and that there is little chance anyone is coming to help them. Even if they escape death and are eventually released, the physical and psychological scars stay with them. 

Article 28 of the Constitution of Kenya guarantees everyone’s right to human dignity. Article 29 protects every person’s right to freedom from arbitrary deprivation of freedom and detention without trial. 

key facts
Since 2019, we have documented 350 cases of enforced disappearances
of enforced disappearance victims are men. 
of enforced disappearance victims are aged between 19-35
Nairobi County ranks the highest in enforced disappearances.


The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance came into effect in 2010. It aims to prevent enforced disappearances, uncover the truth when they do happen and make sure survivors and victims’ families receive justice, truth and reparation. 

The Convention is one of the UN’s strongest human rights treaties. Unlike other crimes under international law, such as torture, enforced disappearances were not prohibited by a universal, legally binding instrument before the Convention came into force in 2010. 

The Convention provides a definition of the crime of enforced disappearance. It outlines necessary state action to prevent the crime’s occurrence and allow for the investigation and prosecution of those who perpetrate it. 

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) monitors the Convention’s implementation. At the time of ratifying or acceding to the Convention, or even later, a state may declare that it recognises the competence of CED to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of victims or other state parties. The CED also provides authoritative interpretations of the Convention. 


Every disappearance violates a range of human rights, including

  • right to security and dignity of person 
  • right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 
  • right to humane conditions of detention 
  • right to a legal personality
  • right to a fair trial
  • right to a family life
  • right to life (if the disappeared person is killed or their fate is unknown).


Working with others at the Missing Voices Alliance, we are driven by a profound mission: to end enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in Kenya. Our journey is guided by the unwavering belief that every life matters and that justice should prevail. Explore the core of our organisation, our values, and the driving force behind our advocacy. 

The majority of extrajudicial executions are preceded by enforced disappearances, a sinister pattern that significantly escalates whenever security agencies are engaged in eliminating suspected organised criminal groups. Moreover, security agencies themselves have been implicated in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions during counter-terrorism operations, which are carried out by multiple security agencies, including the police, the army, and para-military police. 

The mission of Missing Voices is to bridge the evidentiary gap by layering victims’ testimonies with consolidated quantitative data. The Missing Voices website is designed to fulfil four key functions:  

  1. Documentation and Advocacy: We meticulously document cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions, giving voice to the victims and their families. By sharing their stories and the data associated with each case, we advocate for accountability and justice. 
  1.  Awareness and Education: We raise awareness about the prevalence of these grave human rights violations and their impact on individuals and communities. We strive to educate the public and policymakers through informative content and resources. 
  1. Support and Resources: For the families of victims, we provide support resources, including legal aid information, counselling services, and guidance on navigating the legal system. Our goal is to assist those affected by these tragedies in their pursuit of justice. 
  1. Advocacy for Reform: We advocate for policy changes and reforms within security agencies to eliminate the culture of impunity and ensure the protection of human rights. We aim to bring about systemic change by shedding light on these issues. 

Through the Missing Voices website, we endeavour to shed light on the dark corners of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in Kenya, honouring the lives lost and advocating for a more just and accountable society. Together, we can work towards a future where such grave violations are eradicated and human rights are upheld without compromise. 

Learn more about Enforced Disappearance

Missing Voices Alliance