Police handling of Cord protests heavily criticised

People Daily team @PeopleDailyKe

A barrage of condemnation has greeted incidents of violent suppression by police of protests staged by Cord demonstrators, as Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet promised to take stern disciplinary action against officers found to have contravened the law during the chaos.

One person, identified as Bernard Manono, captured on camera as he was beaten up and kicked by two police officers while helplessly lying on the tarmac, survived but suffered abdominal injuries.

The 36-year-old resident of Ayany, Kibera, told journalists yesterday that he was en route to an interview with a taxi company in Westlands when he was caught up in the chaos. Manono, who said he was having difficulties passing stool and has severe back pains, denied that he had attended the Cord protests and was caught looting.

One picture appearing in social media show him with a rock in his back pocket. “On reaching University Way, I encountered police officers who were chasing rioters. I was cornered by three officers who started raining kicks and blows on me.

I am just lucky to be alive today,” said Manono. This happened as two of the 10 people injured in the anti-IEBC demos admitted at Nairobi Women’s Hospital were reported to have sustained bullet wounds, according to the hospital boss, Eunice Munyingi.

Police spokesman George Kinoti, confirming the matter, condemned security officers who inflicted violence on demonstrators who were calling for the removal of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commissioners (IEBC) commissioners.

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“I condemn the lawlessness visited on the rioters by the police yesterday and an internal inquiry is underway to determine whether any officer broke the law while quelling the riots,” Kinoti told journalists.

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec also maintained the officers concerned should be investigated and those responsible be held accountable. Godec, citing a joint statement signed by 11 diplomatic missions two weeks ago, urged Kenyans to reject violence and reiterated the need for a constructive and inclusive dialogue to ensure that the 2017 elections are free, fair and peaceful.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) also raised concerns that the police action amounted to serious violations of human rights.

KNCHR chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori demanded that officers who were commanding operations be held accountable for the violations. “The commission is particularly dismayed by the gory scenes witnessed on Monday in Kisumu, Nairobi, Kisii and Machakos where demonstrators who had already been subdued were subjected to gruesome violence by the police resulting in serious bodily harm,” he said.

LSK and IPOA also launched separate investigations into the police actions with the latter warning those involved in brutal activities risk losing their jobs. IPOA chair Macharia Njeru said the authority will press charges against the officers and urged the National Police Service Commission to take control when handling the public and ensure that their response is within the confines of the law.

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“There is clear evidence that some police officers used force to disperse the citizens who were demonstrating at Anniversary Towers,” said Njeru.

He said they will forward their findings to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for further action. FIDA chairperson Josephine Wambua said action should be taken against male police officers seen attacking women sheltering in a public women’s toilet.

“We appeal for calm and peaceful co-existence among Kenyans and urge them not to allow themselves to be divided along political or ethnic lines,” she added. On the other hand, LSK President Isaac Okero reiterated that police officers should be trained to efficiently and safely extract from lawful protests those whose behaviour falls outside the law.

“There can be no assumption that the criminal acts of one must be borne by all others engaged in lawful protests,” he said. Okero said the officers who have violated the rights of citizens must face both disciplinary process and criminal prosecution.

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