Amnesty International has condemned the reckless and excessive use of lethal force by the Kenyan police, as reports emerged of the killings of at least 12 people — including a 13 year old boy – by police during protests called by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
“We recognise that the Kenyan police are trying to contain what in some cases have been violent protests in Kenya. However, by firing live ammunition into crowds the police have far exceeded what is acceptable use of force. The firing of live ammunition into crowds cannot be justified,” said Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.
In one incident, captured on video by a local television station, an unarmed protestor in Kisumu was shot at close range by a Kenyan police officer who then kicked him while he lay wounded on the ground. The man reportedly died later from the bullet wound.
In a number of other incidents, protestors and bystanders in Kibera, an informal settlement in Nairobi, were reported to have been shot by police who were preventing residents from travelling to the city centre for the mass protest rally called by the opposition. Kibera, inhabited by many of the opposition party’s supporters, has been the site of considerable post-election violence.
“The government must immediately send clear instructions to the police to stop this excessive use of force, conduct an independent and impartial inquiry into the police killings, and prosecute any police officers who have used excessive force against protesters,” said van der Borght.
Amnesty International is also concerned at reports that journalists covering the protests and the police response have been harassed, and that human rights defenders protesting the use of excessive force by Kenyan security forces have been arrested.
“The Kenyan government must respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly throughout Kenya,” said van der Borght. “It is only through the respect for human rights that the country will be able to resolve the political crisis it is now facing,”