Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
Press Statement: Nairobi, Monday 1st May 2023 For Immediate Release:
Kenyans Urged To Maintain Peace and Tranquility
Following the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition formal notification of their planned demonstrations tomorrow Tuesday 2nd May, 2023; and the subsequent decline to facilitate the same by the Officer Commanding Nairobi Central Police Station, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) urges for calmness and draws the attention of the nation to its last press statement issued on 29th March, 2023 with the clarion call - “Lest We Forget: Calling The Nation To Order!”
It is important that we as Kenyans uphold the values of peace and tranquility that have been the cornerstone of our society. However, in light of recent events, the opposition political Coalition has called for demonstrations tomorrow. While it is important for citizens to exercise their rights and freedoms as enshrined in the constitution, it is equally important to ensure that such demonstrations are carried out in a peaceful and calm manner.
The Kenya Constitution guarantees the right to picket and demonstrate peacefully without arms in public and private spaces. Article 37 of the constitution states that every person has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities. This right, however, is not absolute, and there are limitations to the exercise of this right. According to Article 24 of the Constitution, the exercise of any right or fundamental freedom is subject to limitations that are necessary and reasonable in a democratic society. In this regard, it is the responsibility of both demonstrators and law enforcement officers to ensure that the rights and freedoms of all individuals are respected and upheld.
As such, the KNCHR urges all Kenyans who choose to participate in the demonstrations to do so peacefully and calmly. The Constitution recognizes the importance of peaceful and orderly protests as a means of expressing grievances and seeking redress. However, violent demonstrations and destruction of property are not only unlawful but also undermine the very ideals that demonstrations seek to promote. KNCHR calls on all Kenyans to refrain from any acts of violence and to respect the property of others.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights also urges the Kenya National Police Service officers to respect and uphold the rights and freedoms of demonstrators as they carry out their duties. The Constitution guarantees the right to assemble and demonstrate peacefully, and law enforcement officers should not use excessive force to disrupt peaceful protests. The Commission calls on the security agents to exercise restraint and to use only reasonable and necessary force when dealing with demonstrators.
KNCHR also urges them to ensure that all those arrested during the demonstrations are treated fairly and humanely, in accordance with the law.
It is important to note that while demonstrations can be an effective means of expressing grievances, they should not be the only means of seeking redress. There are other mechanisms, such as dialogue and engagement with relevant authorities, which can be used to address issues of concern. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights urges all political players and the principal duty bearers to engage in constructive dialogue and to seek peaceful and amicable solutions to any issues of concern.
The Commission calls on all Kenyans to uphold the tenets of our national anthem - May we dwell in Unity Peace and liberty - that have been the hallmark of our society. We must work together to ensure that Kenya remains a peaceful and stable nation, where the rule of law is respected, and the rights and freedoms of all individuals are protected and respected.
Article 3(1) of the Constitution obligates every person in to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution. In view of the above, the Commission reiterates the following:
Roseline DA Odede