Probe begins into police conduct during Kenya’s anti-government protests – Metro US

Probe begins into police conduct during Kenya’s anti-government protests

Kenya Protests
Police officers fire tear gas canisters during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill that is due to be tabled in parliament in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/ Andrew Kasuku)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An investigation began Friday in Kenya into police conduct during protests against a government plan to impose new taxes, according to the country’s police watchdog.

The chairperson of Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority, Anne Makori, lauded protesters for demonstrating peacefully and urged police to exercise restraint while noting the killing of a protester and injuries sustained by demonstrators and police officers.

Thousands of protesters had on Thursday marched in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi and other major cities and towns across the country, demanding that legislators reject a finance bill that has imposed new taxes on Kenyans.

The mother of the young man who was shot and killed during the protests told journalists her son was coming from work when tear gas was hurled in his direction and police fired at fleeing protesters.

Gillian Munyao said her 29-year-old son, Rex, was with some friends when he fell after being hit in his left leg.

“His friend noticed he had fallen and went to check on him only to find him bleeding heavily. He asked a passerby to help them and police who were walking towards them declined to help them,” she told journalists outside City Mortuary, where her son’s body is lying.

The Kenya Red Cross Society said Thursday that 39 people were injured, 8 of them being in critical condition.

A joint statement by the Law Society of Kenya, Kenya Medical Association, Defenders Coalition, Independent Medical Legal Unit and Amnesty International said that at least 200 people were injured during the protests.

The International Commission of Jurists asked the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Thursday to probe incidents of police violence during the protests.

“We reiterate the use of live bullets against protesters is disproportionate and unlawful,” ICJ Chairperson Protas Saende said.

Police are yet to comment about the killing and injuries sustained during the protests, but a statement from the Inspector General Japhet Koome said that officers would “neither condone nor approve efforts by demonstrators to occupy critical government infrastructure”.

Demonstrators who tried to access parliament buildings where the finance bill debate was taking place on Thursday were met with water cannons, tear-gas canisters, and rubber or live bullets.

The finance bill — which proposes new medical insurance levies, taxes on vegetable oil and an additional fuel levy — has sailed through the second reading with a final vote expected next week. The government amended some contested proposals that included a value-added tax on bread — which was earlier zero-rated — and an eco-levy on goods that would have affected the prices of sanitary towels and diapers.