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LSK STATEMENT: BEAT AND RELEASE IS ILLEGAL, IMMORAL AND UNHELPFUL FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

Police clobbering helpless citizen | Photo Courtesy

LSK Nairobi Branch has noted with appreciation the statements regarding deliberate police brutality during curfew enforcement by:
1. Mombasa Law Society (MLS)
2. Law Society of Kenya (LSK)
3. Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
4. Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA)
5. Police Reforms Working Group Kenya (PRWG-K)

We agree with the sentiments in the said statements. We also:
a. Recognise that the National Police Service have been charged with enforcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew as a public health strategy to fight Covid19 transmission in Kenya.
b. Are aware that all Kenyans must take personal and collective responsibility to implement reasonable social distancing measures to flatten Covid19 transmission curve.
c. Appreciate that many Kenyans, especially the poor and working class, lack adequate social security nets and must be allowed some facility to keep working for food, shelter & other basic necessities so as to survive the difficult times.
d. Realise that at this time, various violations of rights including incidents of lawbreaking, both by citizens and authorities, may keep happening and require the intervention of the entire Justice sector, including the Police, the Office of Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), the Courts and lawyers generally as essential workers.

NOW THEREFORE, we as LSK Nairobi Branch request and demand:

1. That our Kenyan Police recognise that they have no authority to beat curfew breakers. And that beatings equally defeat the purpose of social distancing. “Beat and release,” as a deliberate curfew enforcement mechanism by security agencies, is illegal, unconstitutional, injurious to public safety & public health, and must cease forthwith.

2. That our Kenyan Courts loosen some of their Covid19 lockdown directives, to facilitate critical & essential justice-sector workers including Judges & Magistrates, prosecutors & lawyers generally, and to deal with critical criminal & civil cases brought to them during this period.

3. That the Media, civil society organisations and community based organisations continue supporting reasonable individual & collective action against Covid19, as well as document instances of violations of rights and provide support to any affected victims.

4. That the National Government forthwith revise & review the curfew orders, to facilitate flexibility in enforcement, and to expand the list of essential workers, facilities and situations exempted from strict curfew. The exemptions we seek:

A. Essential services to expressly include:

i) Staff of Judiciary, Parliament & County Assemblies – their job of checks & balances is essential.
ii) Lawyers providing legal services related to the said government functions, including to citizens in conflict with the law.
iii) Persons strictly necessary in providing transport to essential workers.

B. Exception of curfew for:
i) Citizens travelling for or from engagement with or involved in providing facilities relating to the media houses, police stations, other essential services.
ii). Persons seeking medical assistance.
iii) Other grave emergencies.
iv) Persons reasonably engaged in providing transport linked to these exceptions.

In Conclusion, LSK Nairobi calls upon its members to continue exercising their sworn duty _to uphold the rule of law and administration of justice by supporting and representing members of the public in need of legal services during this period of Covid19 linked public emergency, without fear or favour while upholding reasonable health & safety guidelines.

28th March 2020

Charles Kanjama, LSK Nairobi Chair

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About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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