Human rights organisations says police killed 12 people during Kenya protests

Kenya police, which many human rights organisations have called attention to
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Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have found that Kenyan police killed 12 people, including two children, during opposition demonstrations in March. As in the UK, there are few examples of police accountability in Kenya. According to government figures, three people died during the March unrest, including a policeman. However, now human right organisations have documented 12 deaths during three days of anti-government protests. Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga called the demonstration over a cost of living crisis and last year’s disputed election. The two organisations said in a joint statement that they had:
corroborated 12 killings in interviews with family members and witnesses.
They went on to say:

While some of the victims were involved in the protest, most of the 12… were bystanders, passersby, or people in their homes and business premises.

Two children, including a four month old baby, also died from health complications after police fired tear gas into residential homes in Kibera, a neighbourhood in Nairobi.

Abuse, abduction, murder

Human rights organisations often accuse Kenya’s police force of excessive force and unlawful killings. This is especially the case in poorer neighbourhoods. Speaking at a press conference in Nairobi, HRW researcher Nyagoah Tut Pur denounced the “complete and utter impunity” enjoyed by the Kenyan security forces.

Meanwhile Irungu Houghton, Amnesty’s executive director in Kenya, called for “zero tolerance” towards police officers guilty of abuse and violence. In October four Kenyan police officers were charged over the disappearance of three men whose bodies have never been found. The officers came from a notorious unit already linked to extrajudicial killings. The feared Special Service Unit (SSU) that was shut down by president William Ruto in October over accusations of involvement in a spate of abuses, abductions, and violent murders. Prosecutors also announced later that month that they would charge police with crimes against humanity over a deadly crackdown on post-election protests in 2017. UN rights chief Volker Turk hailed the decision at the time. The charges cover rape, murder, and torture. One particularly horrifying case involved a six month old baby girl. Her death became a symbol of police brutality during the bloody election aftermath.

Civillian scrutiny

Kenya’s parliament established the International Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) in 2011 to provide civilian scrutiny of an institution reputed to be among the country’s most corrupt. Only a handful of officers have been convicted as a result of IPOA investigations. That’s in spite of the fact that the watchdog has examined more than 6,000 cases of alleged police misconduct. Activists say that police often refuse to cooperate with inquiries.

According to Missing Voices, a campaign group focused on extrajudicial killings in Kenya, there have been at least 1,264 deaths at the hands of police since it began collecting data in 2017. Between January and March alone, there were 28 cases of police killings, and one case of enforced disappearance.

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Get involved

To find out more about Kenya’s extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances, go to Missing Voices.

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