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Eight activists arrested in Mombasa

Thursday June 19 2014

Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa during a past press briefing. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT

Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa during a past press briefing. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT  NATION MEDIA GROUP

WACHIRA MWANGI
By WACHIRA MWANGI
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Police in Mombasa County have arrested eight human rights activists who were protesting over the alleged failure by the State to ensure security in the country.

A vehicle belonging to one of the activists was also impounded on Thursday.

Mr Hassan Abdille, the head of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (Knchr) office in Mombasa, Mohammed Ruwange, a Knchr officer, Sheikh Mohammed Mbwana, the vice-chairman of Shungwaya Welfare Association, Caroline Kioko and Beth Omwenga, both of Transparency International, Teresa Saru of Coast Women in Development and two others were arrested during the 10am protest.

Members of the civil society later went to the police station demanding the release of their colleagues.

Last week, the human rights groups issued a letter to County Commissioner Nelson Marwa and the police notifying them of the demonstration.

VIOLATION OF RIGHTS

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They indicated that they would also present their grievances to the commissioner after the demonstration.

On Tuesday, police responded, saying the groups should not hold any demonstration.

“Please note that your letter does not show any agenda of picketing and also you did not qualify the reason for not giving time frame. You must be aware that Uhuru Na Kazi is a vital installation and a public office where the public go for service. Therefore with the foregoing your request has not been considered.”

Muslims for Human Rights executive director Khalifa Khelef faulted the police for arresting the activists.

“Our Constitutional right has been violated by the police, article 37 gives every person the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions to public authorities,” he said.

Genesis for Human Rights Director Caleb Ngwena reiterated the statement, saying:

“Our police officers lack respect for the fundamental right ascribed by the Constitution. We will continue with our series of protests until the government addresses the security situation in the country.”