Nairobi, 31 March, 2020 / 6:45 am (ACI Africa).
The brutality meted out on a section of Kenyans by police officers in their bid to enforce the dawn-to-dusk curfew put in place by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19 has caught the attention of Catholic Bishops who, while condemning the Friday, March 27 episodes, have called on security officers to act with a human face, respecting the dignity of persons.
In their March 28 statement, the Bishops express disbelief following “media reports of security officers’ brutality and harassment on members of the public in the enforcement of the Presidential directives” to maintain a 7 p.m. – 5 a.m. countrywide curfew effective March 27.
“We witnessed with shock, as vulnerable members of the society such as women, children and also some critical actors such as journalists and food suppliers being equally harassed by security officers,” the Bishops have stated in the letter signed by the Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishop John Oballa.
Police and commuters in Kenya’s Coastal town of Mombasa clashed Friday afternoon as residents rushed to board the ferry at Likoni to beat the curfew deadline. In Kisumu, the port city on Lake Victoria, the police teargassed Kenyans who did not adhere to the curfew on the first day of its enforcement, a scenario replicated in other Kenyan cities.
“The actions by law enforcement officers yesterday across the Country especially in Mombasa is unacceptable,” the Bishops decry in their March 28 statement and add, “The brutal acts only adds more injury to the people who are already vulnerable, this further exposes the vast majority to the risk of spreading and contracting the virus, including security forces.”