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Friday, 27 May 2016 11:57 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The United Nations' human rights office has condemned Monday’s killings of protesters by the police in some parts of the country.
The UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR) also called the government to respect the right to assemble peacefully, by observing an array of both national and international laws.
“However, as we call on the authorities to ensure that acts of violence are not repeated, we also prevail upon the demonstrators, to protest peacefully, and not resort to violence, as has sometimes been in the previous protests,” notes the UNCHR dispatch released last evening at the sidelines of the ongoing Second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Gigiri.
In the briefing note which also comprises reports from Iraq and Syria where the Islamic State terrorists is active, the UN agency raised issues with the way the local security agencies have handled the anti-Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission protests in the country.
“Yesterday’s killings and injuries, coupled with extremely disturbing videos and photographs allegedly showing members of the security forces brutally beating and kicking protesters during the last round of protests on 16 May, raise serious questions about whether Kenya’s security services are abiding by national and international laws and standards,” UNCHR spokesperson, Rupert Colville said in a briefing note last evening.
The UNCHR lamented that, it is appalling for the security agencies to use excessive force when it is clear in the National Police Service Act (2011) that a police officer must always attempt to use non-violent means first before resorting to violent measures.
“In line with the international Standards, the Act further provides that any force used shall be proportionate to the objective to be achieved; the seriousness of the offence, and the resistance of the person against whom it is used, and only to the extent necessary while adhering to the provisions of the law and the Service Standing Orders,” he added.
He urged both the authorities and the protest organisers to cooperate in ensuring that peaceful protesters are protected from violent elements joining the demonstrations, saying I was vital that the authorities do not overreact to the presence of such elements, thereby placing many other innocent protesters at risk of harm.
“Organisers of the protests should not be held responsible for the unlawful behavior of others,” he said.
He expressed concern by the increasing violence surrounding the weekly protests taking place in Kenya, and welcomed the government’s move to institute investigations into these incidents that took place on May 16 where some police officers were captured on camera brutally beating a protester.
“We call for prompt, independent and effective investigations into yesterday’s (Monday) killings and other violent incidents,” said the UNCHR dispatch.
On Monday, media reported that, police shot dead at least three demonstrators and injured several others. Government reports yesterday, indicated that, a number of police officers were also injured in the Monday confrontation in parts of Nyanza.
Jack is a business and society writer at the Kenya Free Press