Report points finger at Kenyan authorities over election-period abuses

 

File Photo: online

By Fauxile Kibet

At least 37 people were killed in Nairobi between September and November 2017 during the second phase of Kenya’s presidential election, a new report by the rights body, Human Right Watch says.

The report released Monday by the Human Rights Watch has urged Kenyan authorities to urgently investigate the killings and all others documented during the election period and ensure justice is served.

“Authorities need to acknowledge the full scale of election-related violence, and thoroughly investigate each and every killing,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The families of victims need justice.”

According to the report, Police killed at least 23 people, most of them opposition supporters in various Nairobi neighborhoods while armed gangs killed at least 14.

The pathologist reports showed that most victims were shot and killed at close range and, in most cases, by a high caliber rifle.

Most of these killings, according to Human Rights Watch, occurred when police confronted protesters with teargas and live bullets, but in some cases police shot at passersby going about their daily routine, or at groups of youths standing together.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION

Under international human rights norms, police may disperse unlawful or violent assemblies but should avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, use force only to the minimum necessary extent.

They should use firearms only in extreme cases that involve an imminent threat of death or serious injury – and even then, only when less extreme methods are insufficient. The intentional lethal use of firearms is permissible only when strictly unavoidable to protect life.

Kenyan and international human rights groups have repeatedly called on the Kenyan government to ensure accountability for all unlawful killings carried out during the election period.

A report of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, a constitutionally mandated institution, found in December that at least 97 people died countrywide during the 2017 elections.

The Independent Medico-legal Unit (IMLU), a Kenyan nongovernmental group, documented at least 36 police killings nationwide between August and November. Both organizations have called on Kenyan authorities to ensure those responsible for unlawful killings are held to account.

The first presidential election was held on August 8, but the results were annulled by Kenya’s Supreme Court and a second was conducted on October 26.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term in November.

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