Kenyans are infuriated over the recent police brutality and have condemned the police for beating protesters at a demonstration in Nairobi.
On Tuesday, Kenyans and human rights organizations condemned Monday’s incident where police used excessive force to disperse a group of demonstrators seeking the dissolution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
For a country that is going into presidential and parliamentary elections in 2017, the chaos is worrying as Kenyans know too well about election violence. The opposition group led by Raila Odinga claims the electoral body must be changed ahead of the general elections. The opposition contends that impartial election is not promised with the current commission.
Tom Ambwere, a Kenyan lawyer said the Jubilee government is denying the opposition their right to hold peaceful demonstrations.
“As enshrined in the constitution, the opposition has a right to hold peaceful demonstrations and beating them up does not portray a good picture.”
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and other human rights organizations warned that security officers have no right to use excessive force on protesting innocent civilians.
"The management of lawful protests by the police must preserve every citizen's rights to freedom and security of person. The exercise of the right to protest is no excuse for anybody to damage property or to engage in violent conduct," LSK chairman Isaac Okero said. He added that the police force must be trained on how to handle protesting citizens peacefully, no matter how raucous.
Brutality captured in a video footage
The Monday brutality which was captured by a local media house has been trending on social media. The video shows police officers kicking and stomping on a man lying motionless on a curb.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday said it had started inquiries into the conduct of security agencies during the anti-IEBC protests.
KNCHR chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori said the brutality by the police was retrogressive and laced with "corrosive impunity".
"The actions by the security agents constitutes serious violations of human rights, the constitution and the rule of law and amounts to claw back of our democratic gains,"Mbogori said in her office in Hurlingham, Nairobi.
She called on the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery to uphold the constitution in his directives.
"We urge the cabinet secretary to desist from this habit and operate within the principles and values of the constitution that bind all state organs," she said.
The inspector general of police Joseph Boinnet has also ordered a probe into the protests.
The heinous acts were also criticized by the US ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec. “The United States deplores the excessive use of force by the Kenyan security services and the violence around the demonstrations.”
The opposition leader has vowed to continue with protests until the electoral body is reformed.
Image credit: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic