Public Prosecutions to withdraw malicious cases against human rights defenders
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) will withdraw all malicious cases against human rights defenders who were arrested and charged falsely by rogue police elements in past protests, police operations and other incidents.
The announcement was made by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji, who urged due process police operations.
“If we get those names, [we] as the ODPP shall withdraw the charges and make sure that they are not arraigned in court. Police officers must do their work within the confines of the law,” Nation Africa quotes Haji.
Haji made the remarks at a forum on public access to justice organized by Amnesty International-Kenya and held at Aga Khan Walk in Nairobi’s city centre.
Human rights defenders have often found themselves in police cells and court rooms under false accusations aimed at frustrating their agenda.
Last year, six men were arrested and charged on multiple counts for being a part of protests against illegal evictions in Mukuru kwa Njenga.
The men were forced to flee their homes in fear of the unknown.
According to Amnesty International, at least 50 public interest activists were arrested annually over the past three years for exercising their lawful right to protest.
“Excessive bail and bond amounts and burdensome processes currently discourage public interest defenders from exercising their freedom of association, assembly and expression,” said Mary Airo, the national coordinator of the Paralegal Society of Kenya.
“Different orders have negatively impacted families affected by forced evictions in various courts. Survivors of gender-based violence remain unprotected by our forensic capacities and the state’s reluctance to [activate] the National Coroner’s Service Act.”
Also speaking at the forum on public access to justice, National Police Spokesperson, Bruno Shioso, said reforms are still underway in the service to root out rogue behavior.
“We are the blue line standing between good and bad, ensuring that the majority enjoy their freedoms and are not preyed upon and disadvantaged by the evils of society,” Shioso said.
The forum was attended by a host of many other high-profile individuals, including Amnesty International- Kenya Executive Director Irungu Houghton, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, and representatives from the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).