Lawyers: Police more likely to spread Coronavirus than curb it

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Ministry of Health Guidelines Against COVID 19 Avoid Crowds. Stay at Home. Wash your hands with water and soap.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) will  Monday (today) move to court to challenge the government-sanctioned curfew of 7pm to 5am intended to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mr Nelson Havi, the President of the LSK. The curfew took effect officially on Friday last week.

The law society claims that the curfew is unconstitutional and police actions in enforcement of the same are likely to contribute more to the spread of coronavirus than reduce it.

“Law Society of Kenya will move to Court on Monday to challenge the curfew which is not only unconstitutional but has been abused by the police. It is evident that Covid-19 will be spread more by actions of police than of those claimed to have contravened the curfew,” said Havi on Friday last week.

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The lawyers, further claim that police officers, claiming to act under the auspices of the impugned law have abused their authority in the pretext of enforcing the curfew.

This comes after the mayhem witnessed on Friday as police used excessive force to disperse Kenyans, including journalists as the curfew came into effect.

Mr Nelson Havi, via his twitter account, called upon Kenyans to document all incidences of police brutality and forward them to LSK for purposes of prosecuting the responsible police officers.

“Members of the public are requested to document all incidences of aggravated assault by the police and forward the same to the Law Society of Kenya. We will take action against the said officers and or their superiors in charge of the commands where the offenses are being committed.” the fire brand attorney said.

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Lawyers also are calling for the resignation of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i over the police’s use of excessive force while implementing the dusk-to-dawn curfew ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta, which they claim is a violation of Article 10 of the Kenyan constitution.

“The penalty for contravening a curfew is a fine of not more than Ksh 1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 3 months, or to both…the National Police Service have no right or justification whatsoever substituting the penalty with corporal punishment. Their action amounts to aggravated assault.” Mr Nelson Havi added.

What is happening is undoubtedly the opposite of what was intended when enacting the curfew.

It should be recalled that the Kenyan Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe while explaining the purpose of the curfew on 27th March said that it was intended to minimise contact by ensuring people adhered to social distancing.

What is actually transpiring during the implementation of the law is inimical to the objective as understood from the minister’s presser as People are made to lie very close to each other, and in some circumstances, some on top of one other.

The society, further argues, without prejudice to the threat of the pandemic, that the implementation of the curfew is a matter of court not the police.

Havi thus said “The legality of the curfew, acts and omissions of State and private citizens in the name of containing the spread Covid-19 are matters that must be addressed in Court; not nature or police. The rule of law and constitutionalism must prevail no matter the gravity of a calamity,”

In response, the Police spokesperson Mr Charles Owino said the brutality was regrettable, however, he accused some Kenyans of being indisciplined.

Havi’s sentiments were echoed by the International Justice Mission which said it will continue to combat police abuse of power against people who are poor as it focuses to ensure the well-being of families and systematic change in Kenya’s justice system to protect people who are poor and vulnerable from violence.

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