ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the killing of three protestors and injuring many others in protests on 23 May 2016. In Siaya county, two protestors, Churchill Odhiambo and Austine Juma, were shot in the head and the chest respectively, and one other person died in what doctors suspected was a result of having banged his head on the ground while fleeing police violence. It was also documented that journalists were injured after police threw a tear gas canister inside their car in Kisumu county.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the protestors and call for a speedy investigation and prosecution of police officers involved in the shooting. Use of lethal force, more so live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, is unacceptable and goes against the Public Order Management Act, Police Service Act provisions, and regulations on use of firearms,” said Henry Maina, Director of ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.
For the fourth Monday running, the Opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and its supporters have held demonstrations calling for the reform of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), before elections are held next year. Unlike previous protests which took place in Nairobi and Kisumu counties, ARTICLE 19’s has documented that yesterday’s demonstrations occurred across ten counties: Kisumu, Siaya, Kakamega, Migori, Homa Bay, Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisii, and Meru. In all counties, with the exception of Kisii and Meru, it has been documented that police used violence to disperse the demonstrators.
ARTICLE 19’s monitors have documented five patients with bullet wounds taken to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital in Kisumu, and four women hospitalised in Homa Bay referral Hospital with similar wounds. At Migori Level 4 Hospital, five protestors were admitted with serious injuries. In Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kakamega counties, police using tear gas canisters and water cannons violently dispersed opposition leaders and their supporters as they marched to the IEBC offices.
“The continued crack down on peaceful protesters must cease immediately. ARTICLE 19 reminds the government of Kenya of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to ensure the right to freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly,” commented Maina.
ARTICLE 19 calls upon the Kenyan government to take measures to establish an enabling environment for demonstrators to protest and exercise their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.
ARTICLE 19 reminds the police that right to life, as protected in the Bill of Rights and under international law, cannot be derogated at any time. We thus call upon the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to complete investigations swiftly and to take action regarding police officers who have violently dispersed, injured, or killed protestors.