IPOA rarely investigates protest related killings, HRW boss says

 Human Rights Watch East Africa Director Otsieno Namwaya during the interview. [Courtesy]

The Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA) has been accused of not investigating police killings during protests despite getting data from lobby groups.

This is according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) East Africa Director Otsieno Namwaya who was speaking during an interview with Spice FM’s The Situation Room.

According to Namwaya, the IPOA of today is not the same as the one that existed after it began operation in 2013. 

He says that the authority does not investigate any protest related deaths, it only probes what it feels like.

"While IPOA may investigate other cases, there has not been a single day they have investigated protest related deaths,” he said.

He claimed that HRW and other lobby groups always document homicides, illegal arrests, beatings, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances and turn them over to IPOA for inquiry, but they don't act.

"In 2017, Human Rights Watch documented a total of 104 people killed during protests; we submitted the data to IPOA for investigations, but nothing was done; in 2016, during anti-IEBC protests, we documented close to 22 cases and submitted.”

“In 2020, during Covid-19, we submitted a total of 27 deaths; and in 2013, despite documenting 6 deaths in Kisumu, there is not a single case that has ever been investigated by IPOA."

He noted that the IPOA only investigates non-sensitive, easy, and non-political cases involving extrajudicial executions and unexplained disappearances in North Eastern Kenya, and in Nairobi and Mombasa counties.

According to a Thursday, July 20 statement by Amnesty International, at least 30 people have been killed since the anti-government protests began in March 2023.

Azimio coalition led by leader Raila Odinga called for demonstrations against President William Ruto and the Kenya Kwanza administration to lower the cost of living.

In May, HRW and Amnesty International had accused the government of not taking action against officers who kill protesters.

“Kenyan authorities have failed to take sufficient action to hold police officers and their commanders accountable for killings and attacks on protesters and other people nearly two months after a series of nationwide protests began,” they said.

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