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Probe begins into police behavior during anti-government protests in Kenya

Probe begins into police behavior during anti-government protests in Kenya

Probe begins into police behavior during anti-government protests in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An investigation began Friday in Kenya into police behavior during protests against the government’s plan to impose new taxes, according to the country’s police watchdog.

Independent Kenya Police Oversight Authority chairperson Anne Makori praised protesters for demonstrating peacefully and urged police to exercise restraint as they note the killing of one protester and injuries to demonstrators and police officers.

Thousands of protesters marched in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and other major cities and towns across the country on Thursday, demanding lawmakers reject a funding bill that imposed new taxes on Kenyans.

The mother of the young man who was shot and killed during the protests told reporters that her son was coming home from work when tear gas was fired in his direction and police fired at fleeing protesters.

Gillian Munyao said her 29-year-old son Rex was with some friends when he fell after being hit in the left leg.

“His friend noticed he had fallen and went to check on him only to find him bleeding profusely. He asked a passer-by to help them and the police who were coming towards them refused to help them,” she told reporters outside the City mortuary where her son’s body lies.

The Kenya Red Cross Society announced on Thursday that 39 people were injured, 8 of them in critical condition.

A joint statement by the Law Society of Kenya, Kenya Medical Association, Defenders Coalition, Independent Medical Legal Unit and Amnesty International said at least 200 people were injured during the protests.

The International Commission of Jurists on Thursday called on the Independent Police Oversight Authority to investigate incidents of police violence during the protests.

“We reiterate that the use of live bullets against protesters is disproportionate and illegal,” ICJ president Protas Saende said.

Police have yet to comment on the killings and injuries during the protests, but a statement from Inspector General Japhet Koome said officers “will not tolerate or condone the efforts of demonstrators to occupy critical government infrastructure.”

Demonstrators who tried to enter parliament buildings where the finance bill was being debated on Thursday were met with water cannons, tear gas canisters and rubber or live bullets.

The funding bill — which proposes new health insurance taxes, vegetable oil taxes and an additional fuel tax — has passed second reading, with a final vote expected next week. The government amended some contested proposals that included a value-added tax on bread – which was earlier zero-rated – and an environmental tax on goods that would have affected the prices of towels and sanitary napkins.