Amnesty International Kenya condemns ‘punitive enforcement’ of COVID-19 restrictions

Police vehicles on standby at Thika road's Exit 7 as officers await to enforce curfew directive ...
Police vehicles on standby at Thika road's Exit 7 as officers await to enforce curfew directive in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY

Amnesty International Kenya has condemned what it terms as punitive enforcement of the COVID 19 restrictions including blocking of major roads in Nairobi after the 8pm curfew period which left many motorists and passengers stranded including Form Four students.

Also Read: Daily curfew leaves scores including Form Four students stranded

According to the human rights organization, the irregular and disproportionate treatment of Kenyans under the guise of COVID 19 enforcement has occasioned the violation of fundamental rights and freedoms.

“By law, all government action must be based on written law; be necessary and proportionate, and must pursue a legitimate aim. The blockade was unnecessary and disproportionate and thus illegal,” said Demas Kiprono, Amnesty Kenya Campaign Manager for Freedoms & Citizenship.

Amnesty International Kenya said the road blockage resulted in undue punishment of people including the denial of emergency medical care to seek medical treatment.

In a statement released on Monday, the lobby group said health professionals globally have attested that COVID19 prevention is reliant on adequate communication that affirms the citizens’ role and works with health professionals in seeking compliance – as opposed to punishment and attacks on the people to force compliance.

“It results in self-compliance,” the statement reads. “We note that the punitive enforcement of the curfew is in stark contrast to the enforcement of the law against those who have stolen monies earmarked for COVID 19 relief. This includes the KEMSA scandal that has occasioned the ARV drugs impasse with USAID.”

Amnesty International Kenya is now calling on the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of the National Government to urgently review proposed enforcement methods of COVID protocols and ensure that as much as possible they respond to the goal of preserving life.

Also Read: ‘Expect more going forward,’ Police tell Nairobians on curfew enforcement roadblocks

Treasury has also been urged to urgently release monies to all county governments to ensure that all devolved functions including the right to health are adequately financed to respond to public health needs, including the COVID 19 pandemic interventions.

“We also call on upon the Senate and the National Assembly (Parliament) to rise to its role of oversight and representation of the people to ensure constitutional and human rights centred responses in managing and containing COVID-19,” the statement adds.

Amnesty said Kenyans should continue adhering to the public health protocols shared by the Ministry of Health in response to COVID 19; however, in the same breath, the Government of Kenya has been urged to adhere to the constitution and human rights norms in all its interventions.

On Monday night, hundreds of Kenyans — including Form Four students who had finished their exams earlier in the day — were trapped on Monday by the daily 8pm to 4am curfew.


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