Etra judicial killings: inspector general of police sued over 2027 deaths in Kenya

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), and Khelef Khalifa on 18th September 2023 filed a lawsuit against Kenya’s Inspector General of police Japhet Koome, regarding the 2017 police killings in Nairobi.

According to the trio the petition centered on the aftermath of the 2017 presidential election, during which police employed brutal and fatal force to suppress dissent, resulting in 33 fatalities in the capital and that time, Koome was the Nairobi Police Commander.

This incidence transpired on the 11th day of August 2017, shortly after Uhuru Kenyatta was declared president of Kenya by the former Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Wafula Chebukati.

The human rights boards also assert that The IEBC’s declaration triggered protests across Kenya, particularly in the Opposition strongholds, as residents cited vote malpractice, which prompted the police to respond with firearms, batons, tear gas, and water cannons, resulting in the tragic loss of dozens of Kenyan lives where Nairobi was severely hit, with a total of 33 deaths reported.

As stated in the petition, government pathologists confirmed the deceased succumbed to gunshot wounds. However, the suit affirms that not all the dead were present on the streets; some were sadly killed in their homes and businesses.

Besides Koome, the petitioners sued the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and the Attorney-General (AG). 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). The case will be mentioned on September 28.

Human rights violations

The petitioners further disclosed that even after Khalifa wrote to IPOA on January 24, 2023, requesting information about the agency’s actions following the 2017 police killings. Per the petition, IPOA delayed its response until April 12, when they replied that they were investigating only 15 cases, not all 33. However, IPOA did not disclose the status of the investigations or provide reasons for not probing the remaining 18 deaths.

Furthermore, on July 26, 2023, Khalifa wrote to Koome inquiring about the progress of the investigation into the police killings of the remaining 18 people. Like IPOA, Koome delayed his response up to August 15. According to the petition, Koome declined to furnish details of the investigation and redirected Khalifa to seek answers from IPOA.

He also stated that due to the opaque nature of the exercise access to justice for the victims of police killings had been hampered and that is why, KHRC, MUHURI, and Khelef initiated legal action to obtain these records from IPOA and the Inspector-General.

According to the petitioners, getting the investigation report into police killings is crucial for identifying and holding the officers accountable for these deaths.


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