The Kenya Forum | Wananchi Have Every Right to Hold a Protest! - The Kenya Forum

February 27, 2023

Summary

President Ruto’s government must uphold these rights and allow wananchi to convene; air their grievances and call his government to account! We can’t just contend with being disposed to just keyboard warriors!

More by Winnie Kabintie

Wananchi Have Every Right to Hold a Protest!

Wananchi Have Every Right to Hold a Protest!

Comedian Eric Omondi leads protest outside parliament against High cost of living

Arresting Eric Omondi was out of Order!

The constitution of Kenya under Article 37 guarantees citizens/Wananchi the right to protest and assemble.

“Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities,” the constitution prescribes.

The right to hold peaceful demonstrations is also guaranteed under regional and international human rights instruments ratified by Kenya, including Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Banjul Charter) and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This is a right that the police have often infringed upon every time Wananchi take to the street to protest much worse over non-political issues. We have seen citizens tear-gassed and clobbered while protesting over the high cost of living and corruption. I have personally experienced firsthand the brutality of the Kenyan police when it comes to handling peaceful demonstrators while taking part in an anti-graft protest a few years ago.

The police will without any provocation start by throwing tear gas canisters and then take after the demonstrators with buttons, hitting indiscriminately, men and women in equal measure but they are usually more lethal on men. What then ensues is a stampede; with everyone running for their dear life and trying by all means not to be arrested otherwise if you can’t afford a cash bail, you will end up being a tenant at the jails for God knows how long!

Comedian Eric Omondi arrested for demonstrating against high cost of living

This infringement on citizens’ democratic rights was evident last week when comedian Eric Omondi and a group of fellow men took to parliament road to protest against the high cost of living. The same routine played out; tear gas, manhandling then arrest!

Our democratic rights as citizens do not and should never end at voting! in any case that is just the beginning. We have an obligation to hold the government to account and a right to voice our grievances when things are going wrong in the country.

The constitution of Kenya gives power to the people and curtailing the right for citizens to protest is also infringing on their freedom of expression; which is also a constitutional right.

President Ruto’s government must uphold these rights and allow the citizens to convene; air their grievances and call his government to account! We can’t just contend with being disposed to just keyboard warriors!

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