By Sarah Nyakio
Police brutality during protests in Kenya has been a contentious issue for several years. The police, tasked with maintaining law and order, have been accused of using excessive force to quell protests. This has resulted in injuries and loss of life, with protesters claiming that they are exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly.
The most recent example of police brutality during protests occurred in October 2020, during the #EndSARS protests. The protests, initially sparked by police brutality in Nigeria, spread to other countries including Kenya. The Kenyan protests were organized by the #EndPoliceBrutalityKE movement, which sought to bring attention to police brutality in Kenya.
During the protests, police officers were deployed to disperse the protesters. However, they used excessive force, including tear gas and batons, resulting in injuries and the arrest of several protesters. Videos and photos of police officers beating unarmed protesters went viral on social media, sparking outrage among Kenyans.
The police defended their actions, stating that the protests had turned violent and that they were only responding to the situation. However, eyewitness accounts and videos showed that the police had used disproportionate force and had targeted peaceful protesters.
This incident is not an isolated one. In 2017, during the presidential elections, the police were accused of using excessive force to disperse opposition supporters. Several people were killed, and many more injured. The police were also accused of using live bullets to quell protests, resulting in the loss of innocent lives.
The police have also been accused of targeting journalists who cover protests. In August 2020, during protests against police brutality in Nairobi, a journalist was shot and killed while covering the protests. The police claimed that they were firing in self-defense, but eyewitness accounts contradicted their version of events.
In response to the incidents of police brutality during protests, human rights organizations including IMLU have called for the police to be held accountable for their actions.
In conclusion, police brutality during protests in Kenya is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The police must be held accountable for their actions and must be trained to use appropriate force when dealing with protests. The government must also ensure that the constitutional right to peaceful assembly is respected and that journalists are able to report on protests without fear of reprisals. Only then can Kenya truly be a democratic society where the rule of law is respected.