Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Civil Society, rights groups condemn police brutality, call for reforms amid soaring protests

Civil Society Organizations and human rights defenders in Kenya have united to condemn the escalating police brutality amid the ongoing waves of protests across the country.

The demonstrations, sparked by anger over the high cost of living, tax hikes, and mandatory retesting for public service vehicle drivers, have seen protesters met with excessive force, arbitrary arrests, and even extrajudicial killings.

In a joint statement released today 21st of July 2023, the coalition of 30 prominent rights groups, including Amnesty International Kenya, Article 19 Eastern Africa, and the Kenya Human Rights Commission, expressed grave concern over the violent tactics employed by the security agencies.

These shootings, miles away from the main protests, demonstrate a clear intention to shoot-to-kill

Press Statement

The statement pointed to 27 extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions of protesters by police officers since July 7th.

“These shootings, miles away from the main protests, demonstrate a clear intention to shoot-to-kill,” read the statement in part.

Non uniformed officers

The rights groups also highlighted the alarming rise in non-uniformed officers operating with distorted or no number plates, who are abducting protesters and taking them to unknown locations, in violation of Kenya’s Criminal Procedures Code and Police Standing Orders.

Even innocent children are not exempted from the wrath of rogue police officers who have no regard for the constitution

Press Statement

Boniface Ogutu, a human rights defender, was reported to have been abducted on July 20th, and his whereabouts remain unknown, adding to the growing list of 43 human rights defenders who have been arbitrarily arrested, detained, and charged with trumped-up offenses.

Children have also been affected by the unrest, with incidents of police tear-gassing schools.

“Even innocent children are not exempted from the wrath of rogue police officers who have no regard for the constitution,” read the statement.

Action

The coalition called for urgent action, demanding that the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Internal Affairs Unit investigate cases of brutality by the National Police Service, and that the Director of Criminal Investigation and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions take stern action against public officers who misuse firearms.

Moreover, they urged President Ruto and the Legislature to repeal or amend the Finance Act to address public concerns, and called for a national dialogue involving all stakeholders to find solutions to the mounting crisis.

As protests continue and tensions rise, the eyes of the nation are now on the government’s response to these demands for accountability and justice, as the risk of Kenya descending further into a police state looms large.

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