Kenya risks sinking into anarchy, KNCHR says

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Chairperson, Roseline Odede (centre) flagged by KNCHR Commissioners and CEO during the media briefing in Nairobi on the current demonstrations. [James Wanzala, Standard]

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has raised a red flag on the continued disorder, lawlessness and human rights violations during demonstrations by the Azimio la Umoja coalition.

The commission condemned cases of unwarranted violence and human rights violations that Kenyans are being subjected to. They argue that if these continue, risk taking the country into anarchy.

''The fundamental rights, freedoms and democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution are now at stake. The dark and painful past of our country, where political intolerance, negative ethnicity, incitement, lack of safety and security, hooliganism ad the emergence of criminal gangs was rife, is once again rearing its ugly head,'' said Roseline Odede, KNCHR chairperson.

She said it is important to note that countries that have slipped into the path of disorder and lawlessness have ultimately degenerated into anarchy.

''The price of this is too costly. It is a path of no return. The Commission is raising a red alert. We are rapidly retrogressing to the dark painful eras of our past as a country. We must not allow this downward spiral in our beloved motherland,'' said Ms Odede.

She was speaking on Wednesday during a press conference at their offices in Nairobi.

The commission said it has observed several incidents of persons engaging in acts that disrupt peace and have also noted people armed with stones, knives and other crude weapons.

KNCHR called upon the police to uphold and respect the provisions of Article 37 of the Constitution.

It also pleaded with the organisers of the demonstrations to ensure that their supporters are peaceful and that are not armed.

''We call upon National Police Service (NPS) to ensure the security and protection of all persons during demonstrations and restrain from using live bullets," she said.

"We wish to clarify that as of now we have no evidence that police have used live bullets, neither do we have confirmed information as to persons responsible for the shootings."

The lobby group calls upon NPS and Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) to conduct thorough investigations into the killings and bring perpetrators to justice.

The commission also raised concerns on the abuse of freedom of expression, right to own property, attack of journalists both local and foreign and invasion and destruction of private property and places of worship by hired goons.

On the attack on journalists, KNCHR said that it has reports of some who were forced to delete images captured during the demonstrations by security officers while others were arbitrarily arrested.

"It is evidently clear that journalists now find themselves in precarious situations where security forces and demonstrators view them as adversaries in the course of their duties rather than purveyors of public information,'' she said.