Story by KEVIN J. KELLEY and WALTER MENYA
Publication Date: 1/15/2008
The Government should immediately order the police to halt what is
being described as a “shoot-to-kill” policy, a US human rights
group has said.
Human Rights Watch also called on the Government to lift its
ban on opposition demonstrations planned for this week. Noting
that Kenyan authorities have prohibited live broadcasts, the
organisation further urged the Government to end “unnecessary
restrictions on media freedom.”
Human Rights Watch cites unnamed police sources and
independent observers as charging that a “shoot-to-kill”
policy is in effect.
The monitoring group says it has received credible reports of
police shooting to death dozens of demonstrators in Kisumu on
Unarmed by-standers have also been shot in Kibera and Mathare,
Human Rights Watch says, citing witness accounts.
Human rights chief Maina
Kiai at Nyanza Provincial Hospital mortuary in Kisumu
yesterday where victims of electoral violence are preserved.
“Many of us are unhappy with what
we are being asked to do,” the group says it was told by a police
source unwilling to be identified.
“This ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy is illegal, and it is not right. We
have brothers and sisters, sons and daughters out there.” In a
statement issued in Nairobi on Sunday, the rights group’s acting
Africa director, Ms Georgette Gagnon, said the Government should
make it very clear that police would be held to account for using
lethal force against people for expressing political views.
“The right to peaceful assembly is a cornerstone of a healthy
democracy,” Ms Gagnon said.
In Kisumu, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has also
called on police commissioner Hussein Ali to order his officers
not to use live ammunition on protesters.
Commission chairman Maina Kiai also termed the ban on political
rallies illegal and called on the Government to lift it.
He said the ban on the rallies was a violation of the rights of
Kenyans to assembly.
“The law is clear that police cannot place a blanket ban on
political rallies unless there are imminent and palpable threats
to State security.
“The more police ban these rallies the higher the likelihood of
people resorting to illegalities,” he said.
“The police commissioner should explain to Kenyans why they had to
use live bullets on protesters, including children when tear gas
would have done the job,” he said.
Mr Kiai was addressing journalists after visiting Nyanza
Provincial General Hospital where majority of those injured in the
skirmishes are admitted.
The rights chief was also taken around the mortuary where bodies
of those killed are.
The hospital medical superintendent, Dr Julianna Otieno, told the
commissioners that the facility attended to 214 patients with
bullet wounds sustained during the violence. Most of the victims
were shot in the chest, with the bullet entering through the back,
Dr Otieno said.
The commissioners took the bullets recovered from the victims for
At the mortuary, some of the commissioners were shocked by the
figures given by the medic, calling the situation horrendous. The
mortuary took in 54 bodies, all victims of shooting.
Kisumu was the epicentre of the violent skirmishes that rocked the
country over the disputed election results.
Mr Kiai appealed for calm and called on PNU and ODM leaders to
visit the violence-torn areas to witness the damage and
desperation caused by the standoff.
“I would urge the PNU team to visit Kisumu and the ODM to do
likewise in parts of the Rift Valley,” he said.