Nairobi, Jul 20 (EFE).- At least six people were killed during protests in Kenya over the cost of living crisis and tax hikes, Amnesty International said in a report Thursday.
Kenyan police used tear gas and live bullets to disperse several protests on Wednesday called by the opposition amid growing tensions over the violent repression of previous demonstrations that left dozens of people dead.
Protesters and supporters of the opposition Azimio coalition hold used bullets used by police as they engage with riot police in running battles, during the second day of renewed nationwide protests in Nairobi, Kenya, 20 July 2023. EFE/EPA/Daniel Irungu
“Preliminary investigations have revealed that the police have used beatings, arbitrary arrests and detention of protestors, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of tear gas and water cannons, and other serious rights violations to police the protests,” AI Kenya director Irungu Houghton said in a statement.
AI said it had confirmed at least 30 cases of protesters being killed by police since March when the leader of the opposition, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (2008-2013), started rallying protestors to take to the streets.
Protesters and supporters of the opposition Azimio coalition burn a car and throw stones as they engage with riot police in running battles, during the second day of renewed nationwide protests in Nairobi, Kenya, 20 July 2023. EFE/EPA/Daniel Irungu
“We call for an immediate stop to violent policing and criminalising of protests by the state,” Houghton underscored.
“We demand urgent investigations and prosecution of police officers and their commanders for excessive use of force by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
In addition to police violence, the rights group raised concerns over “increasing use of non uniformed officers to effect arbitrary arrests of peaceful protestors,” as well as “calls by political leaders urging the police to shoot and/or arbitrarily arrest protestors.”
Despite a heavy police deployment and rising tensions, hundreds of Kenyans continued to m demonstrate Thursday in Nairobi and other cities after a three-day protest was called for by Odinga.
Demonstrators erected barricades and scorched tires on the roads in an attempt to prevent police from accessing certain areas after demonstrations were banned.
The former PM has led several anti-government protests amid the high cost of living and to protest President William Ruto’s government, whom Odinga accuses of rigging the August 2022 election.
Odinga – who obtained 48.85% of the vote – does not recognize the results, despite the fact that the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against Ruto’s victory.
Last week at least 23 people were killed and dozens were injured during widespread protests, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office.
In May, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented the killings of at least 16 people, most of whom were shot or beaten by Kenyan security forces during demonstrations from March onwards.
Tension and social discontent have been on the rise in recent weeks, after Ruto approved on June 26 a new law that, among other measures, would raise fuel taxes to 16%.
Kenyan authorities applied the tax hike despite the fact that the judiciary temporarily suspended its application while it looks into whether it is legal according to the country’s constitution. EFE