Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
Press Statement: Nairobi, Monday, March 20th, 2023 For Immediate Release
National Demonstrations and Adherence to the Checklist on Public Order Management
The attention of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has been drawn to the demonstrations witnessed today in in various regions including Kisumu, Kitale, Migori and Nairobi. The Commissions’ monitors have established that the demonstrations have resulted in arrests, destruction of properties, injuries and allegations of use of live bullets by the security agents. The Commission, in liaison with other independent authorities, is verifying the reports on the latter. If proven, it would be very unfortunate and the same can be prosecuted under the command responsibility principle. The Independent Policing Oversight Authority - IPOA should carry out independent investigations. In the meantime, the immediate call to action is to urge the Inspector General of Police to restrain and control any use of live bullets against protesters as it amounts to excessive force.
Whereas the Kenya Police Service hierarchy had pronounced itself on the planned demonstrations, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reiterates the need for the Kenya Police Service officers to adhere to the checklist in public order management during protests and assemblies. The standards are very clear and must therefore be followed to the spirit and letter as enshrined in the Kenya Constitution and Police Service Standing Orders. Police officers should be able to isolate and arrest violent protesters who are in breach of peace and at the same time protect those who are innocent during the demonstrations.
The Commission calls out the demonstrators or those taking advantage of the protests to destroy property, harm others and loot. Such conduct is criminal and prosecutable with penal consequences. Police should arrest and arraign all those involved in any form of criminal misconduct. The Commission will continue to monitor and document the ongoing situation and reiterates to Kenyans that; rights must be exercised within the confines of the law and in a manner that respects the rights of others including; protection of right to property by private and public entities and right to freedom and security of the person. Article 37 of the Constitution is unequivocal that “every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities”.
Equally, those who have been arrested and/or detained protesters must be treated in a humane manner and their rights and dignity respected as dictated by the law. They must not be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Police officers must proactively and in a professional manner work towards helping to defuse tension and preventing dangerous escalations during the demonstrations. The Commission further affirms that any human rights violation or abuse in the context of these demonstrations must be investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially. KNCHR calls on anyone with information and human rights concerns relating to the demonstrations to share it through-: SMS-22359, Email- email@example.com WhatsApp 0798 849 871, and Toll-Free Line 0800 720 627.
Roseline DA Odede