KISUMU, Kenya, Aug 30 – Civil rights groups in Kisumu have raised alarm over increasing incidents of harassment by police patrolling the lakeside city at night.
The lobby group said the police, who often abandon official patrol vehicles for motorized tricycles (tuk tuks), unfairly target members of the public.
Mathias Shipeta, the Head of Rapid Response Unit for the Mombasa-headquartered Haki Africa rights organization, on Thursday said the harassment meted on the public in Kisumu by the police is unjustifiable.
Shipeta said police should use their vehicles while on patrols but not to camouflage on tuk tuks to harass and intimidate locals.
“It begs answers why police in Kisumu cannot use their police vehicles for patrols at night,” he said.
Speaking to the press in Kisumu during a meeting with human rights defenders, Shipeta said the officers solicit for bribes from the residents.
He said they have documented the number plates of the tuk tuks being used and will forward them to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to conduct further investigations.
“The residents gave given out the number plates of the tuk tuks frequently being used by the officers and action must now be taken,” he said.
Shipeta urged IPOA to always expedite cases touching on police officers to cushion the public from further suffering.
He said the trend has also been reported in slum areas of Nyalenda, Manyatta and Obunga.
“Residents of this areas have reported increased harassment by these officers on tuk tuks,” he said.
Shipeta said the officers are engaging in corrupt activities, taking bribes from those they arrest while those who failed to bribe them find themselves in court on trumped-up charges.
Haki Africa has been in the lakeside city for the last three days holding legal aid clinics in slum areas.
Residents recounted how they are arrested as early as 8pm without any justification.
Boniface Akatch, the convener of Kondele Justice Forum said police brutality in the area must be addressed.
Akatch said as human rights defenders, they will continue to unmask officers who are out to extort money from the public through arbitrary arrests.
“We will continue exposing these officers and IPOA must act first whenever we report these rogue officers for action,” he said.