Human Rights Watch has accused Kenyan security forces of violating human rights during the 2017 post-election protests.
The international non-governmental organization reports that at least 12 people were killed with more than 100 badly injured as security forces unlawfully killed and beat citizens during the protests.
Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, Otsieno Namwaya, said:
“The brutal crackdown on protesters and residents in the western counties, part of a pattern of violence and repression in opposition strongholds, undermined the national elections.”
“People have a right to protest peacefully, and Kenyan authorities should urgently put a stop to police abuse and hold those responsible to account.”
Mild protests surfaced in parts of western Kenya and Nairobi on August 9, following allegations by Raila Odinga that the IEBC’s system had been hacked so results could favor Uhuru Kenyatta.
The protests intensified on August 11 after Uhuru Kenyatta was announced the winner of the presidential elections.
Opposition supporters in Nairobi, Coast, and the western counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, and Homabay took to the streets chanting “Uhuru must go.” Police responded with excessive force; firing tear gas canisters and water cannons to disperse protesters, who threw stones and other crude objects at police.
The protesters also blocked roads with stones and burned tires on the roads.
Namwaya said police carried out house-to-house operations in Western Kenya on August 11 and 12.
During the operations, residents reported that the police broke down doors, asked for any men in the house and beat or shot them before stealing money, phone, and television sets; and sexually assaulting the women.
Human Rights Watch says hospital staff and county government officials in Kisumu confirmed that at least 100 people, mostly men, were seriously injured in beatings and shootings.
“Many others did not go to a hospital for treatment for fear of being further targeted or arrested,” Namwaya said.
Chairperson of makeshift Kisumu Disaster Management Centre Edris Omondi said as of August 17, at least 92 people with serious injuries, including 3 women who said police raped them, had not sought any medical help.
In Siaya county, Human Rights Watch said police fatally shot a protester near the town of Siaya and beat a 17-year-old boy to death in the outskirts of Ugunja, as they pursued crowds of protesters into the villages.
“Human Rights Watch found no evidence that protesters were armed or acted in a manner that could justify the use of such force.”
Acting Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has, however, denied that police used live bullets or excessive force against protesters and blamed criminals for looting.
“I am not aware of anyone who has been killed by live bullets in this country. Those are rumors. People who loot, break into people’s homes, burn buses are not peaceful protesters,” claimed Matiang’i.
Human Rights Watch conducted research in western Kenya during and after the election.
43 people were interviewed, including victims of police beatings and shootings. Bodies in mortuaries were also examined.