Kenya: Violent repression against an anti-corruption demonstration

11/11/2016
Urgent Appeal

KEN 002 / 1116 / OBS 094
Obstacles to freedom of assembly /
Excessive use of violence /
Arbitrary arrest / Release
Kenya
November 10, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kenya.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) about the violent repression against an anti-corruption [1] demonstration the KHRC co-organised with PAWA 254, the Inter-Religious Council, Transparency International Kenya, Civil Society Reference Group, Sauti ya Wanjiku, Katiba Institute among other partners in Kenya.

According to the information received, on November 3, 2016, around 500 people peacefully gathered in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, at the Freedom Corner, to protest against the increasing number of corruption scandals and the admission by the President Uhuru Kenyatta of his inability to resolve them. The crowd intended to reach the Presidential Palace and give a petition [2] to the President when the police violently dispersed the demonstration, through firing tear gas and water canons. Moreover, some police officers were also filmed beating up unarmed protesters and journalists.

At least 10 activists and journalists have been injured, and 24 peaceful protesters were arbitrarily arrested, briefly held at the Central and Parliament police stations and released a few hours later without charges.

The Observatory would like to recall that this is not an isolated case, but more a pattern of excessive use of force by the police against defenders, lawyers and activists during peaceful demonstrations, used as a mean of repression against their freedom of expression, association and assembly. This trend is perceived by the population to be increasing, especially in view of the upcoming August 2017 elections, as several defenders told to the Observatory delegates during the international fact-finding mission conducted from October 24 to 28, 2016 [3].

Similar episodes of violent crowd control by the police, including by use of lethal force, have happened earlier this year during May 23 and June 6 protests in the Nyanza region (Western Kenya) and of June 6 in Nairobi against cases of corruption within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the national elections management body. This violent repression provoked at least five extrajudicial killings and 60 wounded among the peaceful demonstrators.

The Observatory strongly condemns the violent repressions of peaceful demonstrations by the police, which only aim at sanctioning the legitimate exercise of Kenyan citizens of their right to freedom of assembly.

Moreover, the Observatory calls upon the Kenyan authorities to promptly open investigation on police excessive use of violence as a means of crowd control, and to implement sustained police reforms as foreseen in the 2011 National Police Service Act and the 2011 National Police Service Commission Act.

The Observatory recalls that the Kenyan authorities have the responsibility to ensure the protection of human rights in general and of the rights related to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association in particular, as protected respectively under Articles 33, 36 and 37 of the 2010 Constitution.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Kenya, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all the defenders fighting against corruption and other governance issues, as well as all peaceful protesters and human rights defenders in Kenya;

ii. Ensure in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kenya are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities including the organisation of strikes and peaceful and unarmed assemblies without any hindrance or fear of violence;

iii. Request the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA); Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) to jointly investigate the circumstances under which the police continue to violate the rights of peaceful protesters and hold the culprits to account.

iv. Call upon the National Police Service Commission to review the police standing orders to reflect international standards on the use of force and policing of assemblies.

v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1 and 12,2;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Kenya.

Addresses:

· Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, Fax: +254-020-2436, Email: president@statehousekenya.go.ke
· Hon. William Ruto, Deputy-President of the Republic of Kenya, Email: dp@deputypresident.go.ke
· Hon. Joseph Nkaissery, Interior & Coordination of National Government, Email: ps.interior@kenya.go.ke
· Inspector General of Police,Email: nps@nationalpolice.go.ke
· Macharia Njeru, Chairperson, Email: macharia.njeru@ipoa.go.ke
· Otiende Amollo, Chairperson, Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ),Email:otiendeamollo@yahoo.com; otiendeamollo@ombudsman.go.ke
· Commissioner Kagwiria Mbogori, Chairperson, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Fax: +254-020- 2716160 E-mail haki@knchr.org
· H.E. Mr. Stephen Ndungu Karau, Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 731 29 05, E-mail: mission.kenya@ties.itu.int
· H.E. Johnson Weru, Embassy of Kenya in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 340 10 50 / + 32 2 340 10 68. Email: kenbrussels@hotmail.com

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Kenya in your respective countries.

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  • Co-signatories

    Paris-Geneva, November 10, 2016

    Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

    To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

    E-mail: Appeals[at]fidh-omct.org
    Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
    Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

  • Member organisations - Kenya
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    Kenya
    Opp. Valley Arcade, Gitanga Road, Lavington
    00100 Nairobi
    +254 20 2044545
    +254 20 2106709
    +254 20 3874998
    +254 20 3874997

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