By Sally Kivaya
The use of social media platforms has become a norm in today’s world. With approximately 3.8 billion people using social media, the impact of social media is widespread. A majority of the users are young people and these platforms have had both positive and negative effects on their lives.
According to research ,Facebook is the most popular social media platform used across the world with 2.6 billion monthly users. It is without a doubt that social media networks have made some aspects of our lives easier, especially in terms of businesses, communication, creating social media identities, building social networks and many more.
Even with the positives ,social media platforms have made it easier for some people to be caught up in harmful activities. Such activities include cyber bullying, exposure to inappropriate content and reputation damage.
For some of the residents in informal settlements like Kayole, Dandora and Mathare social media platforms especially Facebook have been used to pass death sentences to targeted youths.
With the creation of Facebook groups like Kayole Crime Free, Hessy wa Kayole, criminal profiling has been normalized in Kayole. The youths aged between 13-27 years and most of them being men ,are profiled by the way they dress ,the company they keep and sometimes by the places they socialize with one another .
The pictures and information of the targeted youths suspected of crime are usually posted in the group. Sometimes it could be a member of the group reporting or accusing the targeted person of crime which most claim to have witnessed. Some people believe that these groups are controlled by police officers, so by posting the information of the suspects and pictures, it makes it easier for them to be tracked down by the police.
One of the most feared posts are when the picture and information of a suspect is posted on the group ,and the suspect is given a warning which usually goes, “utakula copper” meaning the suspect would be shot dead. It is a sad state since youths have lost their lives to extra judicial killings after receiving these warning messages on Facebook posts made in these groups.
In most cases this is considered a death sentence, because after the warning, it takes between a week or a month for the suspect to die by the bullet. This goes against article 50 of the Kenyan constitution which states that; “Every accused person has the right to a fair trial, which includes the right to be presumed innocent until contrary is proven, the right to be informed of the charge, with sufficient detail to answer it.” Most of the young people killed have been executed without the proper procedure which is to stand a fair trial.
According to a report released by Missing voices February 14th 2020,at least 107 Kenyans were killed by police, with the majority of the victims being young men living in informal settlements. In regards to the people in charge of these Facebook groups and pages the former Chief of Police Joseph Boinnet declared “The person behind the Facebook accounts is not a police officer but a civilian passionate about security matters.” It is still not clear who is in charge of these groups.
It is true that criminal activities take place in Kayole and that these activities have led to the loss of lives of many people in Kayole including some police officers who were killed by gangsters. It has also led to loss of property and left some of the people attacked with wounds and scars. Despite these facts it is only fair that the constitution of our country is upheld .Those suspected of engaging in criminal activities should be dealt with in accordance with the law.