Kenya’s oversight body confirms at least 15 dead by police hand

FILE PHOTO: Ferry passengers flee from police firing tear gas, after new measures aimed at halting the spread of the new coronavirus instead caused a crowd to form outside the ferry in Mombasa, Kenya Friday, March 27, 2020. The new measures required public transport vehicles to drop passengers 1km away and walk to the ferry terminal and then queue, but passengers fearing they would get stuck before a 7pm curfew started crowding to get on causing police to fire tear gas and round up the passengers. (AP Photo).
FILE PHOTO: Ferry passengers flee from police firing tear gas, after new measures aimed at halting the spread of the new coronavirus instead caused a crowd to form outside the ferry in Mombasa, Kenya Friday, March 27, 2020. The new measures required public transport vehicles to drop passengers 1km away and walk to the ferry terminal and then queue, but passengers fearing they would get stuck before a 7pm curfew started crowding to get on causing police to fire tear gas and round up the passengers. (AP Photo).

At least 15 people have been killed by police in Kenya during a dusk to dawn curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) said early this week.

This was followed by an announcement on Thursday that the police officer who was responsible for the shooting death of Yassin Hussein Moyo was being charged with murder.

The thirteen-year-old boy was gunned down while standing on the balcony of his parent’s home in Nairobi on March 30 as police enforced a nighttime coronavirus curfew.

Jonathan Lodompui, vice chairman of the policing oversight authority, a civilian group established to investigate and audit police misconduct, says more officers have been disciplined, but he would not disclose how many.

“They have really been disciplined.  Some of them have been recalled, some of them have been interdicted, and some certain disciplinary action or role models have been preferred against them,” he said.

The IPOA said Thursday that five other police officers were facing charges over other deaths, shootings, and assaults that pre-dated Kenya’s curfew.

”After preliminary investigations, 15 deaths and 31 incidents where victims sustained injuries have directly been linked to actions of police officers during the curfew enforcement,” IPOA chairwoman Anne Makori was quoted by The Star newspaper. “The Authority has dispatched Rapid Response teams to establish the circumstances that led to six other fatalities in the latest incidents.”

The IPOA, the only authority that holds police accountable for crimes, noted 87 complaints against police have been reported since the end of March.
The latest death was a homeless man from the Mathare slums who was killed Monday for allegedly violating the curfew.

Hundreds of demonstrators from Mathare protested Tuesday, demanding an end to police killings.

Human Rights Watch said police have broken into homes and shops and extorted money from residents or looted food in locations across the country.

”It is shocking that people are losing their lives and livelihoods while supposedly being protected from infection,” said Otsieno Namwaya, senior Africa researcher at the rights group. “Police brutality isn’t just unlawful; it is also counterproductive in fighting the spread of the virus.”