REPUBLIC OF KENYA: Violence, killings and intimidation amid election chaos

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1 Nov 2017
[International Secretariat]

Heavily armed police are using unlawful force against protesters and bystanders in the western city of Kisumu in what appears to be a deliberate campaign to punish inhabitants for continuing to protest amid chaotic elections over the past week, Amnesty International said today.

Killings and indiscriminate shootings

At least two men were fatally shot by the police in Kisumu on 26 October. Another man died of injuries that suggest he was badly beaten with a large blunt object.

On 26 October, a community worker and activist was fatally shot in the slum area of Mathare North in Nairobi. All of the available evidence points to the police who were in the area dealing with protests as having shot the young man. However the police have not acknowledged the shooting.

Amnesty International spoke to seven other people who were recovering after having been shot by the police in Kisumu.

Kisumu: Punitive policing

Amnesty International spoke with seven people who say they were attacked and beaten by police in Kisumu between 24 and 27 October; four of these incidents occurred in their own homes after police burst in. 

A man in his thirties was visibly distressed as he told researchers that he was shot while on his way to buy vegetables at Kondele market. He said that when he saw the police with guns, he sank to his knees and put his hands up. A police shot at his raised left hand. Another officer dragged him to a nearby sewage ditch, forcing him to drink from it. He was then beaten and his injured hand smashed with the butt of a gun.

One woman said that she was in her house when armed polices burst in.

She said:“They came inside and told us ‘you are the people throwing stones’. I said “no”. They told us to show our hands. We showed our hands and they said that this hand was for throwing stones, and They started beating my 20-year old son with batons. When I pleaded with them to stop, they kicked me in the stomach.

“While some of the protesters in Kisumu have been violent, hurling stones and using slingshots, the response of the police is seriously disproportionate and at times bears a closer resemblance to vengeful attacks than legitimate policing,” said Justus Nyang’aya.

Nairobi:  Police abuses unreported

In Nairobi, several police shootings appeared to go unacknowledged by the authorities.

In addition to the community worker and activist fatally shot in the slum area of Mathare North on 26 October, sources reported at least four other people suffering gunshot wounds in the area in the past few days. Amnesty researchers have also received credible evidence of police beatings.

Amnesty International is following several other cases of police using excessive force on the day of, and after, the elections. Many of these cases have not been reported to the police or by the police. Victims were particularly frightened to speak on the record, fearing reprisals from the police.

Investigations essential

In both Nairobi and Kisumu police were facing protests and attempts in some areas to prevent polls opening by blockading polling stations or intimidating voters. The police have a legitimate role to play in ensuring anyone who wishes to vote can do so safely. They are also permitted to respond if protests become violent but only with the minimum force necessary to contain the situation.

Use of firearms is only justified if the police are facing imminent threat of death or serious injury. In none of the cases described to Amnesty International have the police acted in a manner that was legitimate and proportional.

Many of those shot appear to have been hit because police fired live rounds indiscriminately. Some were clearly bystanders.

All of the cases of intentional beatings amount to a violation of the rights of the individuals.

30 October 2017

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