Police being allowed to get away with murder — report

Police arrest demonstrators protesting their brutality in October 2017. [File, Standard]

Officers involved in human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances go unpunished, an advocacy group Wednesday.

US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the officers were not being investigated in spite of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s promises to address the problem.

“Despite documentation and investigations into the violence during the 2017/2018 elections, in which more than 100 were killed, the government is yet to bring charges against any security officers,” HRW said in its annual global report.

The report reviews human rights standards in nearly 100 countries.

HRW accuses the police of not cooperating with the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to investigate the reported cases of extra-judicial killings.

“IPOA appears overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the cases,” HRW observes, adding that the agency had only secured three convictions since it started work in 2012.

No one has been charged for the killing of nine-month-old baby Samantha Pendo in Kisumu and nine-year-old Stephanie Moraa in Nairobi, the report notes.

This is despite a government inquest finding at least five senior police commanders and other officials responsible for the abuses.

The rights watchdog says in July 2019 it found out that the police had killed no fewer than 21 men and boys in Nairobi slums on the pretext that they were criminals.

“Rights activists in those neighbourhoods believe that, based on the cases they know about and those reported in the media, police have unlawfully killed many more in the past year,” the report says.

Activist Caroline Mwatha Ochieng, who documented such killings in the slums, died under unclear circumstances that police say are not linked to her work, the rights group notes.

It adds that journalists, environmentalists and Mau Forest evictees have not been spared the brunt of police brutality.

“The working environment for bloggers, journalists, and activists remains hostile as police threatened journalists and bloggers, and arrested and detained journalists and activists,” it says.

It went on: “In Lamu, security forces harassed and detained activists expressing rights concerns relating to the government’s massive infrastructure development projects, accusing some as terrorists.”

This is as no payment has been made from the Sh10 billion restorative fund that President Kenyatta announced in 2015.

The report notes that the funds were set up only last year April.

The funds were part of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission recommendations to heal past injustices meted out on Kenyans by the State, groups and powerful individuals in successive regimes.