The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), and Khelef Khalifa have filed a petition at the Milimani Law Courts against Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome concerning the 2017 police killings in Nairobi.
The lawsuit is focused on the aftermath of the 2017 general election where several Kenyans lost their lives.
In a statement on Monday September 18, 2023, the human rights groups noted that police officers employed brutal and deadly force on civilians leading to several casualties.
“The petition has centered on the aftermath of the 2017 presidential election, during which police employed brutal and deadly force to suppress dissent, resulting in 33 fatalities in the capital,” the statement reads.
2017 Presidential Results Announcement
On August 11, the former chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chebukati, announced Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential election.
However, the declaration of Uhuru as president triggered protests across the country, especially in the opposition strongholds, as residents cited vote rigging.
According to the human rights groups, police officers responded with firearms, batons, tear gas, and water cannons, resulting in the tragic loss of dozens of Kenyan lives.
Moreover, the groups stated that Nairobi was severely hit, with a total of 33 deaths reported as a result of gunshot wounds.
“As stated in the petition, government pathologists confirmed the deceased succumbed to gunshot wounds,” the petitioners stated.
Furthermore, the human rights activists argued in their petition that not all who died were present on the streets, adding that some were killed in their homes and businesses.
Also, the interested parties in the case include the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), and the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU).
Petitioners Decry Human Rights Violation
Khelef Khalifa on January 24 this year sent a letter to IPOA seeking to have information about the agency’s actions following the 2017 police killings.
Khalifa cited human rights violations in police dealings with rioting civilians.
According to the petition, IPOA delayed in responding to Khalifa’s request until April 12, noting that they were only investigating 15 and not 33 cases.
However, IPOA did not reveal the status of the investigations or provide reasons for not probing the remaining 18 deaths.
In addition, Khalifa wrote to IG of police Japhet Koome on July 26 this year inquiring about the progress of the probe into the police killings of the remaining 18 people.
The petitioners report that just like the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, the IG also delayed his response up to August 15.
As per the petition file on September 12, 2023, Koome declined to furnish details of the investigation and redirected Khalifa to seek answers from IPOA.
As such, the petitioners resolved to go to court citing lack of transparency from the two bodies which they said interferes with access to justice for victims of the 2017 killings.
“Due to this lack of transparency, which hampers access to justice for the victims of police killings, KHRC, MUHURI, and Khelef have initiated legal action to obtain these records from IPOA and the Inspector-General,” the petitioners noted.
Further, the human rights groups have stated that getting the investigation report into police killings is crucial for identifying and holding the officers accountable for these deaths.