Azimio leaders to sue police over brutality

Azimio leaders led by Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka, Eugene Wamalwa and Jeremiah Kioni during a press conferece in Nairobi on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya has announced its intention to take legal action against police officers who use excessive force on protesters resulting in injuries and death during demonstrations.

Addressing a press conference at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi, on Tuesday, July 18, Azimio Co-principal Martha Karua said police officers who violated their constitutional duty to protect lives and property during protests will face the law.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) reported that at least nine people lost their lives during last week’s demonstration.

“We have instructed our lawyers to prepare and institute legal proceedings against police officers who have gone against their constitutional duty of protecting lives and property of Kenyans during protests,” said Karua.

The Narc Kenya leader called citizens to document instances of police brutality and abuse and share the same with their legal team.

Azimio leaders said the responsibility for protecting Kenyans lies with the State and its agencies.

The leaders including Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Eugene Wamalwa (DAP-K) said the withdrawal of their security detail was part of actions by the Kenya Kwanza regime to undermine the constitution and chip away at civil liberties.

They said the government on Monday withdrew the security detail of Azimio leader Raila Odinga, Kalonzo, Karua, minority leaders, governors, and Members of Parliament.

The opposition expressed concern over the decision viewing it as part of the systematic erosion of the Constitution and the establishment of an authoritarian regime. “These developments are taking root in our country as we speak and the withdrawal of security is part of that development. So, Kenyans shouldn’t say later that they didn’t see a dictatorship taking off in the country,” said Wamalwa.

The opposition further raised the alarm over the alleged formation of a well-resourced squad, Operation Support Unit (OSU), that is embedded within the National Police Service.

Azimio leaders claimed that OSU members wear civilian clothing and typically travel in groups of five.

“They are heavily armed with lethal weapons. They are better facilitated in terms of logistics and transportation, remuneration, communication and weapons than the country’s official security agencies,” claimed Kalonzo.

Right to protest

Azimio alleged that OSU was responsible for the recent killings in Kamukunji, Mlolongo and Jogoo Road, and they travelled in unmarked vehicles. They called on neighbouring countries to refrain from supporting the State by supplying tear gas and ammunition for use against Kenyans.

Meanwhile, a lawyer’s lobby has expressed concerns over the widespread cases of violence during protests and cautioned police not to use excessive force. Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Eric Theuri said the right to protest peacefully plays a crucial role in democratic societies.

Theuri called upon the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) to conduct investigations into the deaths and injuries and use of force and live ammunition by the police.