Kenyan police brutality defended during Covid-19 curfew amid protests
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Cape Town – Kenyan police spokesperson Charles Owino says police officers accused of using excessive force during the dusk-to-dawn curfew are young, still erratic and sometimes get carried away with a little power.
In a live television interview on NTV Kenya on Tuesday evening, police spokesperson Charles Owino responded to police brutality complaints by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).
The only legal oversight body which investigates alleged crimes committed by the police, IPOA has noted 87 complaints against the Kenyan police service since 27 March, when the country’s dusk-to-dawn curfew was enforced to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
On Tuesday, IPOA chairperson Anne Makori said “after preliminary investigations, 15 deaths and 31 incidents where victims sustained injuries have directly been linked to actions of police officers during the curfew enforcement”, according to The Star, Kenya’s daily newspaper.
Responding on NTV to the 15 deaths, Owino said: “I want you to understand that any death where a person has been shot, the preliminary belief would be the person who has the gun is the policeman.”
However, he has labelled the amount of nonlethal police brutality reports as an exaggeration. Owino said that “some of these policemen are very young, and they still very erratic".
"They can easily get drunk with the little power they have and do very wrong things."
Human Rights Watch has recorded robberies, beatings and unjustified shootings by police, a mere two hours into the enforcement of the curfew regulations on 27 March.
The most recent victim is a homeless man, 51-year-old James Mureithi, who violated the curfew and was shot dead by police as a result. Hundreds of people burnt tyres and protested the murder and police brutality on Monday night, according to the Washington Post.
Owino says it is in the country’s best interest that IPOA investigates the matters and has assured the public that those police officers who are found guilty will feel the full might of the law.