Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has expressed its position on the standoff between the government and the Azimio Coalition regarding the continuation of public protests and the failures of the “bi-partisan talks“.
In a statement on Monday, the commission reiterated that Kenya is democratic and not a police or military state, and therefore the President and County Commander (CC) of Nairobi have no mandate within the law to curtail fundamental rights and freedoms, among them, the right to picket and present petitions.
”Public Order Act does not in any way give police (through the office responsible who in this case is the Officer Commanding Police Station-not even the President or CC) powers to allow or disallow public protests and gatherings,” the statement reads in part.
”It is also important to emphasize the fact that organizers in this context the Opposition under Article 37 of the Constitution have a moral and legal duty to ensure that their protests and other events are undertaken in a peaceful, non-violent manner and that the protestors are unarmed.”
KHRC noted the role of the police is to support the organizers of the protests and ensure that those who break the law are apprehended and prosecuted civilly.
”We have had many situations where police work with organizers in civil society to develop a joint strategy for ensuring peaceful and successful protests. That only works when police don’t work under the orders from above. It’s time we had a truly independent police service as opposed to a force,” the body said.