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Kenyan Activists Abducted Amid Tax Protests, Rights Groups Allege

NAIROBI — In recent weeks, Kenya has been gripped by allegations of widespread
abductions targeting activists involved in protests against a controversial tax bill.

Human rights organizations claim that Kenya’s intelligence services are behind these
extrajudicial arrests, a charge vehemently denied by President William Ruto and the
country’s interior minister.

The unrest stems from a proposed tax hike aimed at bolstering Kenya’s finances, but which
sparked nationwide demonstrations.

According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, at least 39 people lost their lives during clashes with police in June, marking turbulent period for the East African nation.

Reports gathered from interviews with activists and rights monitors suggest that over 30
individuals, including activists, medical personnel, and influencers, have been either
abducted or arbitrarily detained.

Many recount harrowing experiences of being seized by security forces shortly after
participating in antigovernmental protests or voicing dissent against the tax legislation.
Several of those taken remain missing, causing widespread concern and condemnation
both domestically and internationally.

The disappearances have prompted outcry within Kenya, traditionally viewed as a bastion
of stability in the volatile Horn of Africa region.

Critics argue that these incidents tarnish the administration of President William Ruto, a
prominent ally of Western powers, despite recent diplomatic accolades from the United

In response to mounting pressure, a Kenyan High Court judge recently labeled the
incidents as “abductions,” issuing a directive to cease such actions immediately, citing
violations of the country’s Constitution.

The order specifically targeted the police and the National Intelligence Service, an agency
overseen by the president.

The controversy surrounding these abductions spilled into a public forum when President
Ruto engaged with Kenyans via social media.

During the session, a political activist confronted Ruto directly, alleging severe mistreatment by officers who reportedly confiscated belongings and detained him at an undisclosed location.

The Kenyan government faces mounting scrutiny over its handling of dissent and the rule of
law amid escalating tensions over economic policies and civil liberties.

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