NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 18-The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), and Khelef Khalifa, a Mombasa resident have jointly filed a lawsuit against Inspector General of Police, Japhet Koome, over alleged police killings that occurred in Nairobi in 2017.
The lawsuit seeks to shed light on the events following the 2017 presidential election, where police actions resulted in 33 fatalities in the capital.
Koome was the Nairobi Police commander at the time.
On August 11, 2017, following the announcement by the former chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chebukati, declaring Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the presidential poll, protests erupted across Kenya, particularly in Opposition strongholds, as residents alleged vote rigging.
In response to the protests, the police used a combination of firearms, batons, tear gas, and water cannons, leading to the tragic loss of numerous lives.
Nairobi bore the brunt of this violence, with a total of 33 deaths reported. Government pathologists later confirmed that the deceased had succumbed to gunshot wounds.
However, the lawsuit asserts that not all the victims were present on the streets; some tragically lost their lives in their homes and businesses.
In addition to Inspector General Koome, the petitioners have also named the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and the Attorney-General (AG) as defendants in the case.
Other interested parties in the case include the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), and the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU).
The legal action stems from a letter sent by Khelef Khalifa to IPOA on January 24, 2023, seeking information about the agency’s actions following the 2017 police killings.
According to the petition, IPOA delayed its response until April 12, when they replied that they were investigating only 15 cases out of the 33 reported deaths.
Furthermore, IPOA did not disclose the status of the investigations or provide reasons for not probing the remaining 18 deaths.
In another effort to seek transparency and accountability, Khalifa wrote to Inspector General Koome on July 26, 2023, inquiring about the progress of the investigation into the police killings of the remaining 18 victims.
However, according to the rights groups, Koome delayed his response until August 15, and when he did reply, he declined to provide details of the investigation and redirected Khalifa to seek answers from IPOA.