On June 15, the Peace Brigades International-Kenya Project shared an opinion piece from the Kenyan newspaper The Star titled Police must stop killing, maiming the poor.
Joseph Kariuki writes: “The world’s attention amid COVID-19 shifted overnight to police brutality with #ICantBreath hashtag trending for days after the horrific killing of George Floyd [in the United States]. …As I saw the anger start boiling all over the world, I was instantly reminded of our experiences of police brutality in Kenya.”
“The stark difference between Floyd’s case and ours is how fast the world came to know about his death, and the lighting speed global outrage that followed.”
“As I write this piece, police officers accused of killing [of 6-month old] Baby Pendo in Kisumu at the height of 2017 elections are yet to be charged despite a recommendation by an inquest into the killing to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge five senior police officers with her murder.”
“In September 2019, our hearts were broken by the story of Baby Duncan Githinji who was only two years old when police cut his life shot in a slum in Kahawa West. …The media did a good job of covering this story and within days the officers involved were arrested. They were later released without being charged.”
“[Thirteen-year-old] Yassin was playing with his sister on his parents’ balcony in Kiamaiko in Mathare on March 30 when he was felled by a police bullet at the safety of his parent’s home. …The police officer is yet to be arrested and charged, it will likely take years for Yassin’s family to find justice, at best by when he would have celebrated his 18th birthday.”
Kariuki adds: “Missing Voices has recorded a total of 94 incidences of deaths and enforced disappearances in the hands of police since January 2020 Only in 2 incidents out of the 16 curfew deaths have so far resulted with suspects being recommended for prosecution.”
This follows the Missing Voices 2019 Annual Report on the State of Police Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Kenya that found Kenyan police had killed 107 people in 2019, most of whom were young men living in the informal settlements.
And it follows the Mathare Social Justice Centre report that found police had killed more than 50 people in Mathare and a total of 803 people in Kenya between 2013 and 2015.
PBI-Kenya is part of the Missing Voices network and the Police Reforms Working Group network. It also works with the Mathare Social Justice Centre and Dandora Community Justice Centre as well as other social justice centres in Nairobi.
Image from PBI-UK website.