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Amnesty International criticize Kenya’s Covid-19 restrictions as punitive

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Amnesty International Kenya has condemned Kenya’s punitive enforcement of the Covid-19 restrictions that includes police arrests and blocking of major roads in Nairobi after the 8pm curfew period which left many form four students, passengers and city motorists stranded on Monday.

The human rights organization expressed their disappointment with what they termed as irregular and disproportionate treatment of Kenyans under the pretense of Covid-19 enforcement which is a complete violation of fundamental rights and freedoms of Kenyans.

Amnesty Kenya Campaign Manager for Freedoms & Citizenship, Demas Kiprono,  said the road blockage has resulted into undue punishment of Kenyans and denied people the right to seek emergency medical care.

“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 Kiprono.

The lobby group said in a statement that health professionals across the world have attested that Covid-19 prevention is reliant on adequate communication that affirms the citizens’ role and works with health professionals in seeking compliance. Enforcement of the covid-19 restrictions should not be punishment and attacks on the people to force compliance.

Houghton Irungu, Executive Director of Amnesty International Kenya [p/courtesy]

Amnesty International Kenya is now challenging the Ministry of Interior led by CS Fred Matiang’i to urgently review their proposed enforcement methods of covid-19 protocols and ensure that their response is aimed at preserving life.

“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.”

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The lobby group also challenged the National Treasury to urgently release monies to all the county governments to carry out all devolved functions by adequately financing response 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 reads.

Amnesty International spoke after hundreds of Kenyans including Form Four students who had finished their exams were trapped on Monday by the daily 8pm to 4am curfew.


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