Activists call for investigation of human rights abuses in Kenya protests

A victim of abuse (middle)

Some Pan-Africanists, human rights activists and diasporan Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have petitioned the Kenyan Presidency to investigate human rights abuses in the recent mass protests that rocked the East African nation.

It was important to respect the human and constitutional rights of protesters, the petitioners stated, noting that “even though the protests have abated, concerns remain that participants in the protests do not feel safe.”

“We believe that in the spirit of ‘Ubuntu,’ whatever affects one African affects all Africans,” the petitioners pleaded in a letter to Kenyan President William Ruto.

The letter was signed by Africans Rising, a Pan-African movement, together with some 400 CSOs and movements across the continent and the diaspora.

A statement issued by Africans Rising, initialed by Ann Njagi, the Communication and Media Lead, a copy made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), explained that the petition, among others, called for a stop to the killing of the protestors.

The petitioners are demanding of the Kenyan Government to “stop the abductions of protesters, produce all those who have been abducted, investigate and punish perpetrators and desist from such acts”.

In addition, all those arrested for protesting must be released, with recourse to the law as the protestors had the right to demonstrate.

“Instead of confronting protests with violence, the government can respond to the protestors’ demands against over-taxation, corruption and misgovernance,” the activists stated.

Massive protests broke out last week in Kenya, after the Parliament passed a bill increasing taxes, including on a bevy of everyday essentials like cooking oil, diapers, and bread.

The demonstration, fueled by the anger of the people, already suffering from inflation and high rates of unemployment, threw the East African country into a state of turmoil.

According to the Reuters News Agency, “as protests increased in size and intensity, even breaching the Parliament’s chambers, they were met with violent repression”.

Media reports estimate that nearly two dozen people were killed in the violent protests, as several people also sustained various degrees of injury.

After initial recalcitrance, President Ruto said Wednesday he would not sign the controversial bill, a development seen as a victory for the protesters, but the saga leaves the country’s future more uncertain than ever, both economically and politically.

The Finance Bill was anticipated to cover Kenya’s approximately US$80 billion in domestic and external debt.

Africans Rising, in its statement, said “the letter and the massive support for it show the widespread solidarity of African people for the cause of the Kenyan people against misgovernance, corruption and economic hardship.”

It cites the track record of the Kenyan security forces, following up on organisers of protests, intimidating, abducting and abusing their human rights.

Consequently, the statement cautioned the government that the coalition would monitor and take on any post-protest acts of abuse.

Source: GNA

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