Joint Press-Release on the need to carry out prompt and effective investigations into the violence that occurred during demonstrations in Kenya

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) Country Rapporteur for the Republic of Kenya, Honourable Commissioner Dr. Solomon Ayele Dersso (the Country Rapporteur), and the Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa, Honorable Commissioner Med S.K. Kaggwa (the Special Rapporteur) follow recent opposition protests demanding reform of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya with concern and are particularly alarmed by the reports of incidents of police brutality against the protesters during the demonstrations that took place on 16 May 2016 and 23 May 2016 in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya.

According to various reports reaching the Commission, during the 16 May 2016 demonstration that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, apart from the use of tear gas and water cannons by police to disperse protesters, there was at least one incident of police officers viciously beating a fallen protestor, which was shown in a video recording.

Furthermore, it is reported that on 23 May 2016, protesters who were demonstrating in different parts of the country calling again for changes in the IEBC were victims of police violence through allege beatings, use of tear gas and gun shots leading to the injuries and death of at least two protesters.

The Commission also learned that the Kenya Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has launched investigations following these incidents.

Prima facie, the reported incidents of police violence manifest instances of the rights guaranteed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples‘ Rights, in particular Article 4 (Right to life); Article 5 (Right to Dignity, Prohibition of Torture Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment and Treatment), and Article 11 (the Right to Freedom of Assembly).

The Country Rapporteur and the Special Rapporteur therefore:

1.- Regret the loss that victims of the incidents of police violence suffered and strongly condemn the use of excessive force by the police Officers;

2.- Urge the Government of the Republic of Kenya to ensure that police strictly observe the relevant constitutional and international standards relating to the management of assemblies and avoid resort to the use of force, particularly lethal force, against protesters;

3.- Welcomes the announcement by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) launching investigation into the allegations and urge that all incidents of use of force by the police are thoroughly, promptly and impartially investigated and necessary measures including holding those responsible accountable and implementing relevant reforms to prevent recurrence of police violence during assemblies are taken;

4.- Urge the Government of the Republic of Kenya to provide adequate remedies to the victims;

5.- Also urge the protesters and political leaders to exercise their right to freedom of Assembly within the bounds of the legitimate limits set in international standards and without resort to acts of violence; and

6.- Ultimately call for the resolution of the underlying factors for the protests through dialogue and the use of constitutional procedures that are in line with the standards of the African Charter.