Prior Human Rights Watch research documented 12 killings by police during protests in western Kenya. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights documented 37 deaths, five of which are in addition to the 33 cases documented here. Taken together with the 17 others allegedly killed by police, the nationwide death toll could be as high as 67.

A woman reacts near the dead body of a protester in Mathare, in Nairobi, Kenya August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A woman reacts near the dead body of a protester in Mathare, in Nairobi, Kenya August 9, 2017.  REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

In the days after the poll, opposition supporters took to the streets in areas of the capital to protest irregularities in the election, in which the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner. On September 1, the Supreme Court nullified the results and ordered a new election within 60 days. It is scheduled for October 26, but opposition candidate Raila Odinga’s withdrawal on October 10 created uncertainty over the revote.

Researchers found that armed police – most of them from the General Service Unit (GSU) and Administration Police (AP) – carried out law enforcement operations in Mathare, Kibera, Babadogo, Dandora, Korogocho, Kariobangi, and Kawangware neighborhoods in Nairobi between August 9 and 13. They shot directly at some protesters and also opened fire, apparently randomly, on crowds. Victims and witnesses told researchers that as protesters ran away, police pursued them, kicking down doors and chasing people down alleyways, shooting and beating many to death.

In one case, a 9-year-old girl, Stephanie Moraa Nyarangi, was shot dead while standing on the balcony of her family’s apartment. In another, Jeremiah Maranga, a 50-year-old security guard, was beaten so badly by police that his body was soaked in blood. He later died. In another incident, Lilian Khavere, a housekeeper who was eight months pregnant, was trampled to death by a fleeing crowd after she fainted from inhaling teargas.

Security Forces Violations in Kenya’s August 2017 Elections

Police in these neighborhoods also tried to prevent journalists and human rights activists from reporting the violations, the two organizations found. In one case, in Kibera, a police officer smashed a foreign journalist’s camera when he tried to photograph police beating a youth leader. Police also beat up a local activist and smashed his camera when he tried to film them in Mathare.

The two organizations wrote to the Inspector General of Police detailing their findings and requesting a meeting but received no response. They also made several requests to interview the police spokesperson, all of which were turned down.

“The Kenyan authorities should publicly acknowledge the violations, conduct speedy, impartial, thorough, and transparent investigations, and take the necessary steps under the law to hold those responsible to account as a key step toward justice for the victims,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The police attacked opposition supporters and then tried to cover up their attacks. The authorities should ensure that this kind of arbitrary and abusive use of force by police does not recur in the repeat election.”

Thomas Odhiambo Okul, 26, died after he was shot by police in an alley right outside the gate to his house. A relative told researchers that Thomas had stepped out of his home to see what was happening. A short while later, as he was running back home, he was shot and killed.

Bernard Okoth Odoyo, 25, a carpenter, and Victor Okoth Obondo aka Agwambo, 24, close friends who lived near each other, were both shot in the back in Mathare on 13 August while trying to flee from the police, and died instantly.

Raphael Ayieko, 17, his close friend and neighbor, Privel Ochieng Ameso, 18, and Shady Omondi Juma, 18, were shot dead by police in Babadogo on 11 August. Eyewitnesses said they saw a policeman push Raphael onto a wall and shoot him. Shady was shot in the chest and Privel in the back as he tried to run away.

Source: Human Rights Watch