The article "UK Lockdown in Perspective: Kenya and Honduras", by Georgina Pressdee for the UK Country Group of PBI, addresses lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya, Honduras, and the United Kingdom.
Read the full article here.
Gacheke Gachihi has been a social justice activist in Kenya for over a decade. He founded Bunge la Mwananchi, an organic social movement, and is also a coordinator of the Mathare Social Justice Centre. In PBI UK’s webinar, “Government and Grassroot Responses in Kenya”, he spoke of the brutal enforcement of the Kenyan government’s coronavirus measures. On the 25th March, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a “dusk till dawn” curfew, from 7pm-5am. On the face of it, the curfew appears far less intrusive than the total lockdown imposed by the UK government a day later. But the critical difference is how these measures have been enforced.
At the beginning of June, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), a civilian organisation created to monitor police misconduct, reported that at least 15 people had been killed by the police and 31 injured since the curfew was imposed. Missing Voices KE, recorded an even higher total of 17 people killed by the police while “enforcing COVID-19 regulations”. The most heartbreaking example of police violence during the pandemic surfaced after only the first night of Kenya’s curfew. Yassin Moyo, only 13 years old, was shot dead as he stood on a balcony watching police enforce the curfew. The officer responsible, Duncan Ndiema Ndiwa, has now been charged with his murder, but has since been released on bail after pleading not guilty.
The lack of convictions for perpetrators of police brutality in Kenya is almost as shocking as the crimes themselves. Since 2011, when the IPOA was formed, less than 1% of the cases they have pursued have resulted in convictions. Accountability for the Kenyan police force is as non-existent as the justice for their victims. This represents a complete disregard for some of Kenya’s most basic obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Most obviously, this police violence is a gross violation of the Kenyan people’s right to life (Article 4), and freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment (Article 5). Police brutality in Kenya is not a human rights crisis that is unique to the pandemic – it is endemic itself. A 2009 investigation by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions, reported evidence of widespread police killings, which he could only attribute to institutional practice – they were not the work of a few officers gone rogue.Since 2013, over 10,000 cases of police brutality have been reported to the IPOA. Only 6 convictions have resulted.