Kenya police officers monitoring anti-tax protests in Nairobi, Kenya, June 18, 2024.

Kenya: Security services must respect fundamental rights during nationwide protests

2 July 2024, Amnesty International Kenya calls on the National Police Service (NPS) and the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to uphold their constitutional obligations to protect and facilitate peaceful protestors during the #OccupyEverywhere protests scheduled for 2 July 2024 across the country.

“Amnesty International reminds the National Police Service and the Kenya Defence Forces of the June 2024 High Court ruling in Malindi, which issued temporary orders preventing security agencies from using lethal and other less-lethal ammunition (including water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets) against peaceful protesters. Justice Thande emphasised that any form of violence against peaceful protesters is prohibited,” said Irungu Houghton, Amnesty International Kenya’s Executive Director.

The High Court ruling upholds Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya, which guarantees every citizen the right to assemble, demonstrate, picket, and present petitions to public authorities peacefully and unarmed. Amnesty International urges the NPS and KDF to honour this fundamental right and ensure the safety and protection of all individuals participating in the protests.

The response of the authorities over the past two weeks has involved unnecessary and excessive force, resulting in the tragic loss of life and the infliction of serious injuries. According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, thirty-nine people have been killed by police officers, the youngest being twelve-year-old Kennedy Onyango, and at least 361 people have reported severe injuries countrywide. Medical personnel responding to the injured have been exposed to teargas, and some have been arrested by law enforcement and military officials. Lawyers have been denied access to their clients, arrested and intimidated by officers of the state to drop cases. Journalists covering the protests have had their cameras confiscated and been arrested and beaten in broad daylight. Kenya’s security organs should stop criminalising protests and operate strictly within the confines of the law.   

Amnesty International will deploy protest observers to monitor the conduct of security forces during the protests. We expect full compliance with the High Court’s orders and the Constitution’s provisions.

Irungu Houghton

Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director

For more information: Amnesty International Kenya Mathias Kinyoda 0786725434