NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 26 – At least 37 people were allegedly killed by police and armed gangs in Nairobi between September and November last year, during the repeat presidential election, according to new findings by Human Rights Watch.
According to the findings released on Monday, police allegedly killed at least 23 people, most of them Opposition supporters, during and after the second phase of the 2017 presidential election in various Nairobi neighbourhoods, while armed gangs killed 14.
Most of these killings, according to Human Rights Watch research, occurred when police confronted protesters with teargas and live bullets, but in some cases, officers are accused of shooting at groups of youths standing together.
“The families of victims need justice,” Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch Otsieno Namwaya said.
Human Rights Watch research since August, when the first vote was held, has found that police and armed gangs killed more than 100 people during Kenya’s prolonged election period.
The rights group is now calling on authorities to investigate these killings and all others documented during the entire electioneering period and ensure that all of those found responsible are held to account.
“Authorities need to acknowledge the full scale of election-related violence and thoroughly investigate each and every killing,” Namwaya stated.
Between November 2017 and January 2018, Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed 67 people, including 30 relatives of victims, 27 witnesses, two human rights activists, three aid workers who helped victims’ families, three community leaders and two police officers in the field.
Researchers also examined hospital records and bodies in mortuaries, reviewed 32 reports of the government’s chief pathologist on the causes of death and interviewed people in Muthurwa, Kawangware, Kibera, Mathare, Dandora, Kariobangi, Baba Dogo, and Riverside neighbourhoods.
The pathologist reports showed that most victims were shot and killed at close range and, in most cases, by a high calibre rifle.
In a statement on November 14, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) – Kenya’s police accountability institution – said that it had only investigated two killings from around the time of the elections, of six-month-old Samantha Pendo, who was assaulted in her parents’ house in Kisumu and died on August 15, and of nine-year-old Stephanie Moraa, who was shot by police on the third floor balcony of her family’s house in Nairobi and died on August 12.
IPOA has recommended a public inquest for both killings and disciplinary action against commanders who were in charge on the day Pendo was assaulted.
The inquest on Pendo’s killing started in Kisumu on February 15.
A report of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, a constitutionally mandated institution, found in December that at least 97 people died countrywide during the 2017 elections.
The Independent Medico-legal Unit (IMLU), a Kenyan nongovernmental group, documented at least 36 police killings nationwide between August and November.
Both organizations have called on Kenyan authorities to ensure those responsible for unlawful killings are held to account.