Excessive police force against Covid-19 implications exacerbated Kenya’s harsh authoritarian climate. On August 1, 2021, police detained two brothers, Emmanuel Marura Ndwiga, 19, and Benson Njiru Ndwiga, 22, in Kianjokoma town, Embu County in Kenya, for being outside after 10 p.m. Human Rights Watch has expressed alarm about an increase in police brutality and extrajudicial executions, with more than 100 innocent lives asserted by Kenyan police during this Covid period.
Abuse of Security Forces
Beyond the socioeconomic consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic devastation of many livelihoods, as thousands of individuals and families lost sources of income, and job losses, and faced the danger of starvation in Kenya, the people were receiving wounds from the state rather than a medicine. However, the implementation of the curfew increased police brutality in the country, resulting in the deaths of tens of Kenyans. The last reaction of people came up with the death of the Ndwiga brothers. The Ndwiga brothers were last seen alive on August 1st when they were arrested for allegedly violating the country’s curfew between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
Three days later, relatives found their bodies at a local mortuary. An autopsy revealed that the brothers died as a result of head and rib injuries. These revelations sparked widespread outrage, which the police forcefully suppressed. On Wednesday morning, news of the brothers’ killings triggered protests at Kianjokoma retail mall, with citizens seeking justice for Njiru and Mutura. Protesters set fires and obstructed highways, demanding that the police officers accused of killing the boys be arrested and prosecuted.
This was not the first time Kenyans had been exposed to police violence, nor would it be the last.
According to Missing Voices documents police deaths, at least 834 persons have been murdered or reported missing by police since 2007. During a pandemic, according to the groups, a total of 25 claimed deaths due to Covid-19 measures have been reported. So, what became to the officers after that? Six Kenyan cops have been charged with murder. When they appeared in a Nairobi court on Thursday, they pleaded not guilty. They will be detained until their parole petitions are heard in September 2022.
Force and the Government
Kenya had two autonomous police forces before the 2007 elections: the Administration Police Service and the Kenya Police Service. However, due to the police’s failure to put an end to the conflict rapidly. Kenya’s new constitution established the powers of a National Police Service. The service is required to aim for the greatest professional and disciplinary standards, combat corruption, and promote and practice openness and accountability. Following that, Kenya established organizations to supervise police activities and acts. In 2011, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the National Police Service Commission were established. The National Police Service Commission and the Authority were established in 2011 and 2012, accordingly. They are responsible for establishing accountability and dealing with allegations of police misconduct. However, there are still significant deficiencies in the policing sector. Police officers continue to use excessive force against the public. Despite attempts to curb excessive police behavior, complaints against cops continue to increase. Inadequate accountability systems in police departments, as well as political manipulation in policing, have fostered and reinforced injustice.
Human Rights in Kenya
Kenya’s human rights trend has been concerning since authorities have failed to bring significant offenders responsibly. What dictatorship permits the police to cause so many disasters and ruin people’s lives by neglecting human life and human rights within the country? Kenya’s inability to democratize is one possible cause. In reality, it was reckless and incapable of delivering justice, which is a natural byproduct of democracy. In competitive authoritarian states, as Kenya does, the democratic transition was not completed, making it ineffective. Kenya has suffered a severe loss, with devastating consequences for both internal and external dynamics. Policies aimed at defending and consolidating authority also presented the issue of concentrating a considerable percentage of power in one person. The police and the state were a huge team. On top of that, there is an oppressive and silent environment in which the police are used as an extension of this. Beyond meddling in a country’s internal political affairs, these concerns about human rights resonate throughout the world, but whether they will be enough to stop the crazy president is a somewhat controversial situation.
Considering the current political situation of Kenya, what happened is actually not too surprising. Kenya’s policy is currently carried out under representative democracy, and the country is dominated by unsuccessful democratization of competitive authoritarianism. As a result of this, democracy is not dominant in the country and the government and police have more say over democracy. So naturally, accountability was not existed in the country, despite the increase in complaints.
Given Kenya’s current political environment, what occurred is not all that shocking. Kenya’s policy is being implemented through representative democracy, and the country is governed by the failed democratization of competitive authoritarianism. As a result, democracy does not dominate in the country, and the government and police have more influence over democracy. As a result, despite the increase in complaints, accountability was not held in the country. Elections alone are insufficient to ensure democracy. The country should also ensure free expression, equality, and fair elections. However, given the country’s current presidential system, this appears to be problematic for now and for the future of democratic situation for Kenya.
AfricaNews. (2021, August 14). ‘Curfew deaths’ on the rise in Kenya as family loses two brothers. Africanews. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.africanews.com/2021/08/14/curfew-deaths-on-the-rise-in-kenya-as-family-loses-two-brothers//
Cherono, S. (2021, August 20). Kenya: Police now change tack in extrajudicial killings. allAfrica.com. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://allafrica.com/stories/202108200699.html
Douglas Lucas Kivoi Principal Policy Analyst. (2022, April 20). Kenya has tried to reform its police force, but it’s left gaps for abuse. The Conversation. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://theconversation.com/kenya-has-tried-to-reform-its-police-force-but-its-left-gaps-for-abuse-176044
Mugo, M. (2021, August 4). Mystery of brothers arrested on Sunday;bodies found in morgue on Tuesday. The Standard. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/eastern/article/2001419987/mystery-of-brothers-arrested-on-sunday-bodies-found-in-morgue-on-tuesday
World Report 2022: Rights trends in Kenya. Human Rights Watch. (2022, January 13). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2022/country-chapters/kenya
This is a sad, but important work bringing this to light. It shows how institutions such as the police can be abused in any type of government. In Kenya, however, you seem to point out that this is part of a larger problem of lack of accountability and the dysfunctional nature of democracy. Thank you for sharing this.