Kenya: KNCHR Decries Police Use of Force on Protesters After 6 Killed in Kisumu Last Week

The Kenya National Commission of Human Rights has warned police against excessive use of force on protesters following the deaths of six people in Kisumu last week.

Several others were injured, including this Wednesday as protesters took to the streets in Nairobi and other towns to protest the high cost of living.

“It is very unfortunate that 33 years later, when Kenya was celebrating democracy, we witnessed the return of a police state where the police brutalized unarmed, peaceful Kenyans exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly as they expressed their dissatisfaction with the state of the economy,” said Roseline Odede, KNCHR’s Chairperson who placed the number of those killed in last week’s protests at seven. But the Interior Ministry only confirmed six who include 2 in Kisumu, one in Migori and three in Kisii.

Odede spoke on the day Opposition leader Raila Odinga was forced to call off a planned rally in Kamukunji-Nairobi following teargas by police who also fired live bullets to disperse a crowd that had gathered ready for an address from the Azimio leader.

The organization’s Chairperson Roseline Odede said it was unfortunate that police had resorted to dispersing protesters using firearms and teargas in what resulted in deaths and serious injury. The statement follows deaths of six people shot dead by police in Kisumu, Migori and Kisii in last week’s protests with fears of more casualties in the latest protests in various parts of the country called by Azimio leader Raila Odinga against the high cost of living.

Violent protests were witnessed in the capital Nairobi and other parts of the country Wednesday, with police firing live bullets, teargas and deploying water canon.

Police fired tear gas on protesters who defied a police ban to join a demonstration against tax hikes in the capital Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Kisii, Homa Bay, Nakuru among others.

The situation in Kisumu on July 12, 2023 during protests against the high cost of living called by Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Demonstrators blocked the main Mombasa Road Wednesday and vandalised metal grills separating the Expressway.

“The organization has observed that the police have resorted to using exercise force on protestors in the management of public assemblies and demonstrations,” Odede said, adding that “The actions we have seen in the recent past including on Friday amount to total disregard of the National Police Service Standing Orders and the police code of conduct and must be legally investigated by relevant oversight bodies.”