Kenya police killed at least 33 people in Nairobi during demos sparked off by August 8 presidential poll results, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch research shows.
A report by the two rights watchdogs reveals as many as 50 people, mainly in perceived opposition strongholds in the capital, could have lost their lives during the protests against President Kenyatta’s win.
The 37-page report, titled Kill Those Criminals’: Security Forces’ Violations in Kenya’s August 2017 Elections, documents excessive use of force by police and other security agents against protesters and residents.
Police were directly implicated in the deaths of at least 33 people during their operations in Mathare, Kibera, Babadogo, Dandora, Korogocho, Kariobangi, and Kawangware between August 9 and 13.
“Another 17 were alleged killed, most of them in Kawangware, but researchers could not confirm the cases,” the report says.
In some cases, the officers shot or beat protesters to death, researchers say.
“They shot directly at some protesters and also opened fire, apparently randomly, on crowds.,” the report says.
“Victims and witnesses told researchers that as protesters ran away, police pursued them, kicking down doors and chasing people down alleyways, shooting and beating many to death.”
Other victims, the rights defenders claim, died of asphyxiation from inhaling teargas and pepper spray, from being hit by teargas canisters fired at close range, or from being trampled to death by fleeing crowds.
The two rights groups interviewed 151 victims, witnesses, activists, health workers and family members among others.
The researchers and consultants from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also interviewed journalists, activists, diplomats and police officers and family members of the people killed.
The interviews were conducted in some of Nairobi’s informal settlements between August 9 and September 12, 2017.
The report says in all cases of death reported to the the rights watchdogs, researchers obtained the name of the deceased, spoke to relatives and witnesses, and, in most cases, viewed hospital, postmortem or mortuary records, or the corpse to confirm deaths.
The researchers also visited local police posts and police stations.
Police bosses in Kariobangi and Korogocho were willing to meet and talk with HRW and AI researchers but in others areas, they were referred to divisional command and ultimately to the police spokesman, who reportedly refused requests for an interview.
Independent Policing Oversight Authority said the police were not cooperating with them in their investigations into the officers' actions.
But in a quick rejoinder, police took to national television and social media to dismiss the findings.
Inspector-General Joseph Boinnet on Monday said the report “was based on falsehoods”.
“We wish to refute the claims as totally misleading and based on falsehoods,” Mr Boinnet said through Spokesman George Kinoti.
Later, in a statement, the police said they were studying the report and would comment on it later.