In 2007 nearly 1,300 people across the country of Kenya lost their lives to a wave of brutal attacks that were based on the turmoil of the current election year. William Ruto was accused of planning and executing a brutal campaign of violence during the elections after the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga accused the then-president, Mwai Kibaki, of rigging the elections. In recent news, the International Criminal court has decided to drop the prosecution of the deputy president, prompting many Kenyans to recollect the violence of 2007.
Protests Turn Violent
On May 16, 2016, a group of protesters gathered in Nairobi to oppose an electoral oversight body, resulting in an immediate clash with local policemen. The policemen were fired tear gas into the crowd and use water cannons to subdue the escalating violence of stone-throwing protesters.
With images of policemen repeatedly beating protesters, firing upon crowds, and using excessive force, many of the country’s protective service departments are under fire. In fact, Kenya’s police chief has called for an internal investigation, according to Interior Ministry spokesman, Mwenda Njoka.
With common stories such as Benard Ngari Ngatia, who told the Capital FM radio that he was caught in the police violent responsee as an innocent bystander, “The police started to beat me,” he told the station. “People thought I had died. Even the police thought I was dead.” Ngatia is not the only one who was beaten for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, Muthoni Wanyeki, weighed in saying, “The brutal beatings by police … amount to arbitrary and abusive use of force, which is illegal under Kenyan, regional and international law.”
The Struggle of Human Rights
As Kenya continues to address the escalating security crisis, many are worried that the increased human rights violations by Kenyan security forces are greatly hindering the progress towards basic human rights for the Kenyan people. With cases including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, and even torture, the government is known for rarely investigating, much less prosecuting security officers for such abuse.
In addition to failing to prosecute, the government has been extremely slow implementing key reforms in addressing the political crisis in Kenya. Ranging from land reform, to stronger accountability tactics, and security sector reforms. The combination of working towards controlling and restricting the civil society and independent media, there has been no tangible progress towards improving the situation in Kenya.
The Future of Kenya
While many are struggling with the idea of an unaccountable government, the Trial Chamber of the International Courts, or ICC, stated, “This is not the end of the road for the victims. In fact, victims should be able to seek justice for these crimes in the future as the accused have not been acquitted, and can be re-prosecuted for these charges either by the ICC or domestically.” But this gesture of “legal” opportunity has little effect on the average Kenyan, who cannot afford their own personal attorney and worry about outside unsanctioned retaliation for pursuing a hearing in court.
Many Kenyans are still haunted by the 2007 violence and one woman, Fatma W, who was beaten and raped by during the outbreak still lives in horror. The recent announcement of the criminal case being dropped, she simply continues to “wait and die”. Still impacted by the violence every day, Fatama tells Human Watch, “I am not at peace, my body is not the same. If I am pressed, urine just comes out. I feel weak. Sometimes I have a dirty-smelly discharge coming from my vagina. I feel pain in my lower abdomen. I have serious back ache…. I don’t have money to go to a big hospital. I have so much shame. I feel hopeless. I just sit and wait to die.”