By Gaudence Were,

October 3rd 2017,

The police brutality in our country has to come to an end. It is unconstitutional and inhumane. That which is supposed to protect the citizenry is now preying on it. If anything is to go by, their actions depict an authority that is intolerant of criticism. It is not possible to secure the rights of a people if he whom should be ensuring that security cannot support the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms.

To begin with, demonstrations are neither Christmas dinners nor tea parties. Demonstrations are not supposed to be flowery events. Demonstrations almost always serve a purpose. Even where the underlying reasons for a demonstration may be absurd or baseless, those reasons remain valid to the demonstrators. When there are demonstrations, you should not have a guarantee of doing business as usual. You are not supposed to be comfortable. Demonstrations ought to make you as uncomfortable as they possibly can. They teach you to listen to all that you have overlooked simply because your life seems to be okay. If these very demonstrators go ahead to destroy and loot private and public property, they have to be arrested and charged appropriately. However, the police cannot impliedly state that the solution to demonstrations is the use of excessive physical force. The efforts that the police use in such situations should only be to control, disperse and arrest demonstrators in as far as the protection of the rights and property of other citizens are concerned. Controlling, dispersing and arresting beings require the use of less lethal weapons. When the police resort to the use of physical forces injuring and even killing the citizenry then there comes a problem. There is a big problem because such force is not used to protect the rights and property of other citizens but rather as a deterrent measure. The issue should not be deterring the demonstrator from taking to the streets again. It must not be a message that there is an agenda to cow him to silence. Control, disperse and where necessary arrest. However, shooting with live bullets and clobbering should not be part of the solution.

We must not only condemn these illegal actions now. We must not only stand up to call out brutality when “our people” are the victims. It is not enough to stand up and demand for a stop in police brutality just now. At all times, due procedure must be followed. Peaceful demonstrators must not die in the hands of the police. Violent demonstrators must not die in the hands of the police. Innocent, piece-wielding civilians must not die in the hands of the police. Criminals whether alleged or confirmed must not die in the hands of the police. The forces must be denied the power to punish wrongs and alleged wrongs. The moment we create an exception as to when the police can use live bullets on a civilian; the system will go ahead to exercise that power on ALL civilians and in all circumstances. Then we would have contributed in sculpturing a rogue police force. Police brutality must be stopped at all possible times; whether it is a protestor, a thief, a young child or a sick man on the receiving end.

The writer is a Student at The Kenyan Law School and a Social Justice Apologist.

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