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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,28TH MARCH,2020-The catholic bishops have condemned police brutality mated on civilians since Friday when the current corona virus curfew begun being enforced.In a statement sent to the press,the bishops through catholic justice and peace commission,the bishops have urged the police to refrain from assaulting civilians while enforcing the law during this time and instead ask Kenyans to stick to the time frame declared.”We however observed with disbelief, media reports of security officers’ brutality and harassment on members of the public in the enforcement of the Presidential directives. We witnessed with shock, as vulnerable members of the society such as women, children and also some critical actors such as journalists and food suppliers being equally harassed by security officers”said the statement.
The bishops have also declared their full support to the government even as it continue s to devise measures to prevent further spread of corona virus which as par today stands at 38 confirmed cases.
The bishops in their statement read on their behalf by CJPC chair bishop John Obala Owaa,have however outlined some of their concerns and observations which they want given keen consideration.
Here are their thoughts :
- Appreciate Kenyans for their hardworking and resilient nature to ensure that their livelihoods and those of their families continue uninterrupted. All they need is an enabling environment.
- The actions by law enforcement officers yesterday across the Country especially in Mombasa is unacceptable. The brutal acts only adds more injury to the people who are already vulnerable, this further exposes the vast majority to the risk of spreading and contracting the virus, including security forces.
- Respect for Human Rights, Rule of Law and Access to Justice as provided in our Constitution are essential in combating this pandemic. We urge all law enforcement officers to abide by the law in enforcing the curfew.
- Better organization from the government is critical. We thank Mombasa County for the measures being undertaken to observe and ensure order in the flow of vehicles and that of the public.
- We urge the Police and other security personnel to also follow the directives by the Government on social distancing when controlling crowds and enforcing laws.
- We are aware that majority of Kenyans, especially those living in low income areas rely on daily earnings and must continue with their activities. It is also our responsibility to pay attention to the requirement that we all must be home between 7.00 p.m. to 5.00 a.m. This is for our own good and for the good of all those we live with and even encounter in the course of our activities.
- All employers must also heed to the imposed curfew and ensure they work out plans to safeguard their employees by respecting curfew hours to avoid unfortunate events that we witnessed yesterday. We all MUST play our roles.
- We need to look for options that accommodate every category of Kenyans during this critical period including creatively search for our own solutions.
They have further reiterated that Human dignity and sanctity of life is a value which must be upheld at all times. Let us be our Brothers’ and Sisters’ keeper and stand in solidarity with humanity as we strive to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The catholic bishops also urged Kenyans as well as leaders to unite and speak in one voice if the coron avirus is to be defeated.” Coronavirus spread will only be defeated through collaboration and adherence to the required measures. Let us avoid blame games and concentrate more on what can enable us return to our daily routine in the shortest time possible.”they added.