A section of Nakuru Human Rights defenders have raised concerns over what they term is overcrowding at the Nakuru Central Police station cells contrary to the Ministry of Health guidelines on COVID-19.
Led by Vincent Tanui, the Human Rights defenders say this was witnessed over the weekend with the pretext of enforcing Corona related public health measures where the police are arresting people in droves and then coerce them to pay bribes in exchange for freedom.
Failure to comply has led to overcrowding in the cells.
The Human Rights defenders argue that the predatory nature of the police service has once again been fashioned into a lethal tool for extracting bribes and harassing innocent Kenyans.
Over the weekend police in collaboration with Nakuru County enforcement officers conducted several raids and netted over 100 people, the majority being those who had no masks.
During these raids, according to the Human Rights defenders people were manhandled and bundled into crowded vans, therefore, exposing them to Coronavirus.
“The overcrowding was so severe that a van with a carrying capacity of 12 was loaded with over 30 people. To make matters even worse, those arrested were overnight detained in an overcrowded cell at the station. This is unacceptable considering the infectious nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it is proving to be a costly mistake to rely on individuals unschooled in the principles of public health to manage a public health crisis” said Tanui.
It is for this reason that the Human Rights defenders have appealed to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Directorate of Criminal Investigations – DCI and Independent Policing Oversight Authority as well as @directorate of public prosecutions to investigate this matter and arrest those culpable.
Information has it that those arrested and taken to Nakuru Central Police station on violating Corona related measures were paying between 3000 and 5000 shillings in order to be released.
Tanui says 15 people he talked to while at the station, confessed to paying a bribe to secure the freedom of their kin with officers making good ‘ easy’ money over the weekend.
According to the Human Rights defenders, such scenarios only serve to widen the rift between the police and members of the public and also reinforce the notion that police are ill-equipped to handle a public health emergency and are only interested in collecting bribes.
Our attempts to reach Nakuru Central Police OCPD over the matter did not fruit.
However on Monday morning through a phone interview over the matter, Joseph Omondi from MIDRIFT Human Rights Network, an organization that has been working closely with police to enhance the relationship between officers and the public admitted that they had received the same complaint.
He however was quick to note that they will be holding a meeting with the Police commander on Wednesday to understand more on the matter and amicable solution.
Omondi calling on members of the public to be patient as the matter is being addressed.
“We have received the complaint and we are having a meeting on Wednesday and I will let you know,” he said through a phone interview.