When the police show up to disperse demonstrators in the streets of Nairobi, whether one was part of that crowd or not, their fate is the same. Think of people with disability, pregnant women, children caught up in the mess and what becomes of them if anything unexpected happens.
In a petition filed by now Nyeri Town MP, Ngunjiri Wambugu challenging anti-IEBC protests organised by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) in 2016, the court has directed the government to demarcate demonstration zones to ensure rights and freedoms of non-demonstrators are neither suspended nor interfered with.
Wambugu’s petition detailed the nature of violation of the rights and freedoms that took place during the public demonstration, organised by CORD to get rid of the commissioners of the IEBC revealing how ordinary businesses were interrupted and most premises closed, businesses looted, roads blocked to curtail movement, people harassed by the demonstrators, public service vehicles burnt, public and private property destroyed during the entire period.
Ministry of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki, have been called upon to formulate regulations prescribing responsibilities for clean-up costs, maximum numbers participants in the demonstrations and consents of persons or entities adjacent to demonstration zones.
Justice James Makau also ordered the formulation of a Code of Conduct for convenors of demonstrations where convenors of a demonstration will be expected to provide a detailed explanation on how they intend to ensure non-demonstrators are not adversely affected during demos. Those who fail to abide by these laws, the regulations should provide appropriate penalties.
“The fundamental right under Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present Petitions to public Authorities is conditional on the protestors or demonstrators conducting themselves peaceably and unarmed,” stated Justice Makau.
However, police and other security agencies are duty-bound to immediately stop protestors or demonstrators if they are armed with any form of weapons including stones or any offensive weapon of whatever nature.