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Kenya Investigates Police Conduct During Anti-tax Protests

KENYA’S Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has launched an investigation into police conduct during recent protests against the government’s plan to impose new taxes. The protests, which took place on Thursday, saw thousands of demonstrators march in the capital, Nairobi, and other major cities and towns.

Peaceful protests and police response:

Anne Makori, chairperson of the IPOA, praised the protesters for demonstrating peacefully and urged police to exercise restraint. She acknowledged the killing of a protester and injuries sustained by both demonstrators and police officers.

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Fatal incident

The mother of Rex Munyao, a 29-year-old man who was shot and killed during the protests, shared her account with journalists. She explained that her son was returning from work when he was caught in the chaos and was hit by a bullet in his left leg. Despite his friends’ attempts to get help, police officers nearby did not assist.

Injuries reported

The Kenya Red Cross Society reported that 39 people were injured, with 8 in critical condition. A joint statement from several organisations, including the Law Society of Kenya and Amnesty International, indicated that at least 200 people were injured during the protests.

Call for investigation

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) urged the IPOA to investigate incidents of police violence during the protests. ICJ Chairperson Protas Saende emphasised that the use of live bullets against protesters is disproportionate and unlawful.

Police statement

The Inspector General of Police, Japhet Koome, stated that officers would not tolerate efforts by demonstrators to occupy critical government infrastructure. However, police have yet to comment on the specific incidents of violence and the protester’s death.

Protest context

Demonstrators were protesting against a finance bill that proposes new taxes, including medical insurance levies, taxes on vegetable oil, and an additional fuel levy. The bill has passed the second reading, with a final vote expected next week. The government has amended some contested proposals, such as a value-added tax on bread and an eco-levy on goods affecting the prices of sanitary towels and diapers.

The investigation by the IPOA aims to ensure accountability and address the concerns raised about police conduct during the protests.

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