What you need to know:
- The police boss termed as ‘sensational’, the reporting by the human rights body, and said that the figures were falsified with an aim of tainting the image of the police service.
- IMLU said it had recorded grievous violations of human rights committed by the National Police Service during the elections period.
The Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet has refuted claims by a human rights group that 36 people were killed by police deployed to quell election violence in some parts of the country.
Mr Boinnet, through police spokesperson George Kinoti, said the figures were exaggerated.
He said only 19 people lost their lives before, during and after the two presidential elections this year—11 people during the August poll and another eight in the October repeat election.
On Wednesday the Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU) released a report detailing that more than 36 Kenyans have been killed by police since August 11, when the results of the presidential election were announced.
The police boss termed as ‘sensational’, the reporting by the human rights body, and said that the figures were falsified with an aim of tainting the image of the National Police Service (NPS).
“We therefore urge IMLU to be fair, just and impartial in their reports. In this respect, we reiterate that we were never consulted prior to the publication of this malicious, sensational and misleading report,” Mr Boinnet said.
The organisation said police officers were deployed to 19 counties identified as potential hotspots for violence where they maimed and killed protestors unnecessarily.
The group said there was evidence that the police responded to riots using indiscriminate force with no chance for other models of policing, especially in opposition strongholds.
IMLU said it had recorded grievous violations of human rights committed by the NPS during the elections period.
Executive Director Peter Kiama also questioned the coordination in the security forces, saying that many areas received newly deployed police officers without the knowledge of the officers in charge of the division.
“Residents in many neighbourhoods in opposition strongholds hailed the local police for their restraint and blamed ‘strangers’ for the excessive use of force,” Mr Kiama said.
He said that there was a legitimate need to examine the command structure in situations where the local officer commanding station or the county commander receives extra or specialised officers to beef up capacity.
“This begged the question: is the local police boss in charge in such situations or do the surge officers receive instructions from their unit bosses or are they on their own?” Mr Kiama posed.
The organisation revealed that it had, with the consents of the victims’ families, conducted post mortem on the bodies of those who were killed, and established that some people were shot without necessarily having posed a threat to the police officers.
Out of the people who lost their lives after the initial elections, according to IMLU, seven had gunshot wounds to the chest, two had them on the upper limb and one had a gunshot wound on the head. Two other persons were shot from the behind.
“Going by the postmortem reports, there is no clear demonstration that police were shooting to defend their lives or the lives of others.
“In two cases where police indicated in P23 forms that they were shooting to save their lives from the attackers, the supposed attackers were shot from the back, indicating little chances that they were confronting police with machetes,” Mr Kiama said.
The lobby, which has been vocal against extrajudicial killings, torture and other human rights violations, listed some of the most notable cases of excessive force meted on civilians— including six- month-old baby Samantha Pendo, Stephanie Moraa Nyarangi and other high school students who were not involved in any form of riot.
Apart from deaths, IMLU said, several other people were injured by police bullets, teargas and beatings.
“Fifty-one of those who were shot, tortured and assaulted by police are currently recuperating in different hospitals in Kisumu, Nairobi, Homa Bay and Migori counties,” IMLU said.
Even though NPS said the numbers have been exaggerated, it said that the internal affairs unit as well as Ipoa are investigating all the instances of alleged use of excessive force in quelling violent riots whose outcome will be made.
The service listed all the eleven alleged deaths, justifying the use of excessive force by the police officers in Tana River, Nairobi, Kisumu , Elgeyo Marakwet, Siaya, Homa Bay, Bungoma and Kericho counties.
In most cases, it said, rioters armed with crude weapons while attacking the police were shot dead. NPS said the circumstances were however under probe.