The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has condemned cases of police brutality during the recent anti-government protests called by the opposition.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi on Tuesday, the commission’s chairperson Roseline Odede said there has been “a clear manifestation of violation of fundamental rights and freedoms” in the way police have been engaging with protesters.

“It is disheartening to witness the escalating tensions and the blatant disregard for human rights and freedoms by both protesters and security agents,” she said.

“The commission has received reports of torture and abuse, the wanton beating of persons even after surrender, indiscriminate teargassing of residents and schools.”

Odede said the commission will conduct a probe into the alleged torture incidences of degrading and inhumane treatment by security forces and called on the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to hasten investigations into the matter.

KNCHR also expressed concern over the return of abductions and killings by the police. The commission condemned the holding of arrested individuals for longer durations than provided for by the law, reiterating that per the constitution, an arrested person should be arraigned within 24 hours and other provisions such as the right to communicate with an advocate.

Similarly, KNCHR castigated the breaking into people’s homes witnessed on Friday in Kisumu.

“Breaking into homes as was seen in Kisumu and affecting improper arrested while dispensing brutality and torture infringes upon the rights of citizens and violates the dignity and sanctity of their private spaces,” said Odede.

She added that special interest groups must be protected from violence during demonstrations, and called for protection of human rights defenders and members of civil society organisations from assaults and arbitrary arrest.

Whilst the opposition has been mobilizing peaceful demonstrations to picket President William Ruto’s administration against the high cost of living and increased taxation, they have turned violent, with 20 deaths and several more gunshot-inflicted injuries.

The opposition had called for the ninth round of protests this week, but Azimio leader Raila Odinga announced their suspension late Monday. He said the coalition would instead hold solidarity parade and vigils for victims of police brutality in various parts of the country.

Odinga called off demonstrations in April and May after Ruto agreed in principle to a dialogue which has failed to materialise, with both sides accusing each other of sabotage.

By Fred Azelwa Odanga.