KNCHR, oversight authority urge police to respect law

KNCHR Chairperson Kagwira Mbogori says police must respect human rights while engaging protestors, especially now that the country is headed to an election year/AFP

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has condemned cases of police brutality witnessed during Monday’s Opposition protest against IEBC officials.

KNCHR Chairperson Kagwira Mbogori says police must respect human rights while engaging protestors, especially now that the country is headed to an election year.

“It is just responsible for all people to uphold the constitution and to take responsibility; the gravity of police brutality meted out on some demonstrators was totally appalling and unacceptable,” she bewailed.

Mbogori asked all the victims of police brutality to file complaints with the commission and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority for legal measures to be taken against the officers involved.

“We want to investigate the matter and identify police officers responsible for specific violence,” she said.

She however urged Opposition leaders to follow the law while calling for the disbandment of the IEBC and to call for restraint from their supporters.

“Those who want IEBC disbanded must follow the law. The Constitution has laid out the way in which a constitutional commission can be disbanded or commissioners sent home,” she appealed.

“Our peaceful coexistence in this nation is dependent on our following the law – even those who want the electoral commission disbanded must follow the law.”

Even with this, she says police have no excuse in acting contrary to the provisions of the law.

She urged the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery to desist from issuing orders to the police service since “he has no powers.”

According to Mbogori, the CS can only advise the National Police Service on police issues and has no powers on operational matters.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority joined the commission in condemning the police actions with a probe being launched to identify officers said to have infringed on protestors’ human rights.

IPOA Chairperson Macharia Njeru says they had their own officers monitoring the protest and even witnessed cases where police were brutal.

He noted that a section of the protesters were armed with crude weapons that could have endangered the lives of the police and other members of the public.

“It doesn’t matter whether members of the public are engaging in illegalities or not, the police response must be within the confines of the law,” he said.

Njeru, who was addressing journalists on Tuesday afternoon, said police must use the necessary measures to maintain law and order without necessarily clobbering those involved.

The Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet has since directed a “thorough and speedy probe into cases of police brutality during yesterday’s (Monday) demonstrations.”

The protest was marred by cases of mugging by a section of Opposition supporters targeting innocent members of the public.

CORD leaders – now joined by KANU which sent its Secretary General Nick Salat to the protest – vowed to continue with the protests every Monday, until the electoral body is disbanded.

The move has been condemned by a section of political leaders largely from the Jubilee coalition, who insist the law must be followed.

Deputy President William Ruto has said that the government is ready for a dialogue, constitutionally, on the proposed electoral reforms ahead of 2017 General Election.