NAIROBI, August 14 – Human rights groups are demanding a probe into brutality by police after violent reactions to a contentious presidential election left more than 20 people dead.
Police have fired live ammunition at opposition supporters, killing at least 24, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, in the wake of protests in the strongholds of defeated candidate, Raila Odinga.
Among those allegedly killed is a nine-year-old girl struck by a stray bullet.
As celebrations began in pro-government areas, opposition supporters poured onto the streets in Nairobi and Kisumu following the announcement of incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner in an election marred by vote rigging allegations.
Kenyatta secured 54 percent of the vote.
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s director for East Africa, said the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA) must immediately launch an independent and effective investigation into reported killings.
He said where there was credible evidence of crimes, culprits must be brought to justice.
“Everyone has a right to peaceful protest and they must not be hurt, injured or killed for exercising that right,” Wanyeki said.
He said police must prioritize dialogue and only use force and firearms if peaceful means failed.
“Use of excessive and disproportionate force is forbidden under Kenyan and international law and must be avoided at all costs.”
Fred Matiang’i, cabinet secretary for the ministry of interior, said criminals had taken advantage of the protests. Protesters barricaded roads and were fired objects at police.
“Any person that may have criminal intent will face the full wrath of the law,” Matiang’i said.
The international community appealed for calm.
“After such competitive elections, it is now time for Kenyan politicians to bring the people together and work towards an inclusive and socially cohesive society for all Kenyans,” said David McAllister, head of the European Parliament delegation.
Kenya has a reputation of disputable elections.
Some 1 500 civilians were killed and 600 000 others displaced after polls held a decade ago.