After promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, human rights, democracy, governance and rule of law activists like myself took a back burner to allow space for those to whom we donated our sovereign power to exercise it on our behalf.
However, the impunity we are witnessing now of violation of human rights, rule of law and the Constitution is unprecedented.
How did the media become a target of police brutality? Several journalists were seriously injured by tear gas canisters, water cannons and bullets specifically targeted to them by the police.
Not all police officers were brutal, in fact I saw one giving first aid to an injured journalist and they too are getting injured. But the majority are nasty and break the law with impunity. These are giving a bad name to the few good ones just as the violent and armed demonstrators are giving a bad name to the rest. Nevertheless, we focus on the police because, it is they with responsibility to protect.
The use of excessive force by police, inflammatory and inciting utterances and tweets by leaders in government and opposition, invasion and destruction of private property, commission of crimes with impunity and at the connivance or incitement by leaders and the police, should outrage all people of goodwill.
The reasons why the demonstrations began seem to pale in comparison to the crimes being committed every time there is a demonstration. The law protects citizens’ rights to protest, picket and demonstrate peacefully and unarmed. However, we are witnessing demonstrators armed with stones, looting, vandalising and destroying property. We are witnessing thugs stealing with impunity.
When the demonstrations began they were generally peaceful and organised. However, the invasion of Northlands emboldened a section of protesters because they saw the police doing nothing.
The demonstrations appear to have been infiltrated by criminals and soon we may not tell peaceful protesters from looters and criminals. Azimio-One Kenya leaders must control their supporters and encourage them to protest in peace and remain unarmed.
It is true, the cost of living is high and prices of commodities and utilities have spiraled out of control. The government must find a lasting solution. The self-assured hubris by police especially the Inspector General of Police will be his Achilles heel.
The statement on Thursday by President Ruto that the police are independent and solely responsible for their actions and can make independent decisions on what they want to do to secure this country, should thoroughly worry and scare the IG.
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This is because the President is signaling individual liability for wrongs and crimes committed and that those with the highest responsibility in the police will face the law if found culpable including, guilt for crimes against humanity.
In fact, on the same day, a commissioner of IPOA warned the IG reminding him of how one of his predecessors was carted away to The Hague to answer charges of crimes against humanity and promising him that he will be investigated. Clearly, the level of police brutality witnessed in Nairobi is not going unnoticed and undocumented even by those who oversight it. We are all watching the police and the demonstrators and documenting the evil that they do, perhaps that is why the police is targeting journalists to hide the evidence?
Instilling fear in journalists and Kenyans will not solve the problems bedeviling us; we need a lasting solution to the impasse by reasoning together; irrationality and intransigence will not help.
The hardline stance against peace talks between President Ruto and Raila Odinga by some leaders in Kenya Kwanza out of fear of another handshake are not wholly unfounded as it has happened before. These fears must be addressed so that sufficient compromises are found to bring the protagonists to the negotiating table.
Political leaders should never forget that the positions they hold, enjoy and abuse now are transitional and their terms will end and they shall be held to account sooner or later. We all have a duty to defend the Constitution and to be our brother’s/sister’s keeper but within the law. Police brutality is usually indicative of a force gone rogue and it should worry all of us.