Kenya: End excessive use of force against protesters

ARTICLE 19 condemns the continued violent disruption of protests and the use of excessive force by police in opposition strongholds in Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga and Nairobi Counties before, during and after the fresh presidential elections on 26October 2017 that have so far led to the deaths of six people. The use of live bullets and the indiscriminate shooting and maiming of citizens under the guise of tackling violent protests must be brought to an end, and police must be appropriately trained on facilitating protests and protecting citizens without resorting to excessive force.

On 26 October, Kenyans went to the polls for a rerun of the August presidential elections, after the Supreme Court annulled the results of the previous exercise citing illegalities and irregularities. On Monday 30October, the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission declared a second win for incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, however, the election had a historically low voter turnout of 38%, after being boycotted by the main opposition party National Super Alliance (NASA).

 “We strongly condemn all brutality against those exercising their right to protest, especially by police officers whose duty is to protect. We call upon the authorities to ensure the incident is investigated swiftly and effectively, and to hold those responsible for this brutal assault against protesters to account,” said Henry Maina, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.

According to Article 21 of the Kenyan Constitution, the state is obligated to protect and promote the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, by establishing an enabling environment for citizens to enjoy the right to protest. This requirement is also reflected in Kenya’s obligations under international law.

The 6th Schedule of the National Police Service Act, the Independent Police Oversight Authority Act and the Public Order Management Act prescribe when and how force should be used and also require the police to facilitate assemblies through dialogue. When force is used, it must be legal, necessary and as a last resort.

ARTICLE 19 calls upon the National Police Service, the National Police Service Commission, the Independent Police Oversight Authority and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure that this incident is thoroughly investigated and that those responsible are held to account.