Kenya Jurists call for calm, dialogue following Monday protests

The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya) has called for dialogue and accountability among various actors in the country following the second day of violent protest organised by the Azimio La Umoja Coalition.

The protest, which sought electoral reforms after the 2022 elections among other demands, was met with opposition from security forces and some citizens who engaged in looting and property destruction.

In a press statement issued on Wednesday, ICJ Kenya Chairman Protas Saende made specific recommendations to the President and the Presidency, the National Police Service (NPS), the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), the Azimio La Umoja Coalition, and the Kenya Kwanza Coalition.

The ICJ called on the President and the Presidency to recall and adhere to the Oath of Office and uphold the Constitution and dignity of the people.

The Commission urged the police to initiate credible investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for crimes committed during the protests.

The police have also been urged to protect peaceful protesters, ensure law and order impartially and to protect and respect media freedom.

The commission also urged the IPOA to launch thorough investigations into police behavior during protests and to pursue legal action against any police officers who have committed crimes against people.

ICJ advised the Azimio La Umoja Coalition to promote national unity, organize people-centered protests with clear plans and security measures, and articulate social and economic electoral justice concerns.

The commission recommended the Kenya Kwanza Coalition to take strong steps to improve social and economic rights.

The ICJ also condemned the protesters’ use of violence and interference, claiming that they were denied their constitutional right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate, picket, and present petitions to public authorities.

Saende also voiced shock at the NPS’s failure to stop some protesters from damaging private property, especially religious infrastructure.

Saende said that ICJ Kenya will continue to monitor the situation and provide legal assistance to those whose rights have been violated.

He also expressed deep concern over the loss of lives and serious injuries during the protests, as well as growing ethnic profiling, hate speech and incitement across various public and social media platforms.

“ICJ Kenya urges Kenyans to understand that the unlawful events of 20 March 2023 and 27 March 2023 can potentially take the country on a dangerous path of lawlessness and impunity with glaring ramifications to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law,” Saende said.

He reiterated his call to all Kenyans and particularly the political class to steer the country away from this potential brink, adopt a unified path, and desist from activities that further polarise the country urging Kenyans and particularly the political class to embrace dialogue to address divergent political positions.

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