Kenya: Repressive policing, evictions leave hundreds homeless and spark protests

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kenyan government ordered a nation-wide curfew on March 27. Human rights groups have criticized the heavy-handed enforcement of the curfew by police using tear gas and batons, including on journalists. The day the curfew was announced, police caused panic as they tear-gassed ferry commuters who were trying to get home before the curfew in the port city of Mombasa. On March 31, a 13-year-old boy was shot and killed while standing in his home’s balcony watching police enforce the curfew. Peaceful demonstrators in Nairobi protested the increased police brutality and extrajudicial killings during the pandemic.

On May 8, officials in the Kenyan capital Nairobi forcibly evicted 7,000 people living in informal settlements. The evictions were conducted early in the morning with families saying they had received a notice less than 24 hours prior or no notice at all. Houses were bulldozed despite a court order prohibiting evictions. In response, residents and traders blocked a busy bridge to a nearby market in Kariobangi North next to the intersection and burned tires, as they demanded to speak with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Police officers forcefully disrupted and dispersed this protest using tear gas and water cannons. Days later, politicians distributed food parcels and admitted that the evictions had been ill-timed, given the economic uncertainty and movement restrictions during the pandemic . 

On April 29, another eviction was carried out near the Kirisia forest where 200 Samburu people had their homes destroyed and were forcibly displaced.

Pic: Ed Ram/ The Guardian
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