Speed up investigations on police brutality amid protests, IPOA urged


Plain clothes police officers patrol Mathare slums during Azimio la Umoja anti-government protests on July 19, 2023. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

A human rights body has urged the national police watchdog to speed up investigations on officers’ misconduct during protests.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) also condemned police brutality and faulted unwarranted abductions, torture and killings of unarmed protestors in recent demos.

Speaking to the press, KNHCR challenged Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to step up its investigations on the registered cases of police brutality.

KNHCR chairperson Roseline Odede said the public’s right to freedom from torture and other cruelty meted on humanity should not be compromised by state security agencies.

“The commission urges the IPOA to hasten its investigations into the allegations of torture and ensure perpetrators face appropriate legal consequences,” said Odede.

She said Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Last week, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya led by Raila Odinga had their supporters held anti-government protests countrywide.

The protests led to fierce engagement between police and protestors leading to several deaths and injuries.

KNHCR also issued a stern warning against assaults of human rights defenders and illegal harassment of the public in their private residences.

“Breaking into their (protesters) homes as was seen in Kisumu and other places and affecting improper arrests while dispensing brutality and torture infringes upon the rights of citizens and violates their dignity and sanctity of their private spaces,” Odede said.

KNHCR also acknowledged involvement of uniformed police officers in lodging attacks against defenseless residents.

The commission’s chair promised a full report in two weeks, indicating the impact of excessive use of force by the police to contain demonstrations.

However, KNHCS said their preliminary investigations from various networks established that more than seven minors have been illegally held in Nairobi Industrial area remand prison with two already bailed out.

“It is unfortunate that children despite their innocence, continue to face the brunt of the violence,” Odede said.

They accused police of instilling fear among the victims of violence whom they claimed, are still nursing injuries at home for fear of arrests should they seek medication.

Odede asked medical personnel to accord medical services to the injured while upholding principles of confidentiality.

On attack on journalists within the precincts of Judiciary, the commission urged the government to desist from infringing on the right of the public to access information and justice.

“Such practices violate fundamental human rights and erode trust between the state and citizens,” she said.

She called for collaboration amongst the public, civil society organisations, state institutions and the media to foster harmony.