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Kenyans further scarred by police brutality as curfew kicks in – Nairobi News

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Police brutality ushered in the coronavirus curfew for Coast and Eldoret residents as cops descended on hapless citizens two hours before the deadline.

Not spared were media personnel with Nation Media Group television cameraman Pater Wainaina being clobbered by a police officer, as he struggled to perform his duties.

The brutality on the journalist, which was roundly condemned by the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) and Kenya Union of Journalist (KUJ), came as a shocker as the crew were recording the new measures the police and Coastguard had effected at the Likoni Channel.

“I was actually doing my work and the brutality meted on me by the policeman caught me surprise. I did not provoke him, and it was uncalled for,” Mr. Wainaina said.

Coast regional police boss Rashid Yakub apologised for the incident, terming it unfortunate and uncalled for.

“Please advise the journalist to record a statement at the Central Police Station in Mombasa, get an Occurrence Book (OB) number so that we can take appropriate action against this officer. We do not condone such incidents, and his actions have no place in the force,” Mr. Yakub said.

Churchill Otieno, the president of Kenya Editors Guild said that this wasn’t an officer of the law, but a criminal.

“We demand that he is immediately disarmed and prosecuted in a court of law. The public have a right to timely, accurate information hence journalists must be allowed to work,” Mr. Otieno said.

The KUJ Secretary General Eric Oduor said that this was another unfortunate incident which showed police’s low value for the work journalists do.

“This is a matter we shall revisit and report it to Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) and the Inspector General (IG) Hillary Mutyambai for action. We will go for these specific police officers caught assaulting journalists. This is a classic case where will use to settle this. We have the footage of the said officer, and we will want action taken,” Mr. Oduor said.

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The Police officers also went on another brutality spree, beating up hundreds of ferry users who were lining up to get into the ferries at the Likoni Channel.

The officers who were armed with batons beat the commuters after they crowded and tried to force themselves towards the Likoni Channel.

The commuters complained they were getting late as the curfew time was approaching.

The officers hurled teargas canisters at the crowd as they mercilessly beat up the people seriously injuring them.

Women who were caught in the melee were left with tears after they were beaten and frogged marched by the irate officers.

A stampede occurred as the hundreds of the pedestrians were forced back to the line that has stretched past PCEA church and meandered within Kizingo streets.

During the better part of the day, police have been forcing commuters to line to allow them maintain the 1.5m social distance once they get into the ferries.

The measure has been announced by the government in its effort to deal with the spread of coronavirus.

On Thursday, Coast regional commissioner John Elungata said there will be no ferries at night.

Mr Elungata said that ferries will be available as from 5.30am to 6pm in the evening.

During peak hours, he said three ferries will be available to carry pedestrians only and the fourth vessel to ferry vehicles only.

Meanwhile, police officers lobbed teargas at harmless wananchi who were rushing home along Kenyatta Street in Eldoret town at around 6pm.

The officers were patrolling the streets asking people to go home.

Most of them were caught unawares as the officer threw teargas canisters unprovoked.

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20 specialized Cuban doctors to support pandemic fight at KUTRRH » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya July 18 – The COVID-19 fight in the country received a major boost on Friday after the government announced the arrival of 20 specialized Cuban doctors to support ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the doctors who are specializing in internal medicine, oncology, cardiology, renal and pediatrics will be based at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH).

“With the COVID-19 cases rising, these specialized doctors will go a long way in supporting our doctors in managing the disease and also in exchanging of skilled development,” he said.

Kagwe revealed that the doctors are from the Brigade of Henry Reeve, a contingent of doctors specialized in Disaster Situations and Epidemics.

He credited President Uhuru Kenyatta for facilitating the coming of the doctors in the country to help in the fight against virus whose infection rate continues to peak.

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He revealed that President Kenyatta personally made a phone call to his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel to bring in the doctors who will offer their services in the country for a period of three months with a possible extension for another three.

“We are really grateful for that gesture from the Cuban government,” he said.

Kenya is a long-standing partner of Cuba in the filed of medicine ostensibly in facilitating training of her doctors in Cuba.

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Burkina’s anti-jihad volunteers stir praise and controversy » Capital News

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Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jul 18 – To some, they are doughty fighters who with meagre resources put their lives on the line.

To others, they are an undisciplined band — a “death squad,” according to one — that has carried out summary justice and inflamed ethnic tensions.

The force at the heart of this controversy is the newly-created Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland (VDP, to use their French initials), a militia fighting jihadist raiders who have sown terror in rural Burkina.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore unveiled the idea of the VDP last November as the shocked Sahel nation mourned the massacre of dozens of people in an ambush in Semafo.

They were the latest victims of a jihadist insurgency that began in neighbouring Mali and now casts a shadow over states to the south.

In Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, more than 1,100 lives have been lost and nearly a million people forced from their homes.

On January 21, after another bloody attack, parliament approved a law creating the VDP.

Under it, citizens who join the VDP undergo 14 days of military training, are equipped with light arms, communication and observation equipment, and carry out surveillance and protection missions.

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They are unpaid, although each local unit receives 200,000 CFA francs ($350, 300 euros) a month to pay for petrol and other operating expenses, according to VDP members.

Volunteers often also get help from local people and monetary tips from traders or others they escort.

“We were fed up getting slaughtered like chickens,” says “Rambo,” a 32-year-old farmer who joined the VDP in Kongoussi, in northern Burkina Faso.

“We had the choice of sitting back and watch death come to us or to confront it head on, hoping that we could at least save our families, our villages. We prefer to fight.”

– Weak army –

Commentators say the VDP is both a symbol of the weakness of the armed forces and de-facto recognition of unofficial militia that existed before.

“Recruiting volunteers sounds like an admission of the inability of the FDS (defence and security forces) to ensure the defence of the country by themselves,” a local grassroots group, the Observatory for Democracy and Human Rights (ODDH), said.

Drissa Traore, a specialist in Burkina Faso, said the authorities “found a compromise between institutionalising (armed) groups and dissolving them.”

Self-defence groups proliferated in rural Burkina Faso after 2015.

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These “koglweogos” — Guardians of the Bush in the Moore language — sprang up in several regions, notably to fight criminal gangs.

They have often been accused of torture, extortion and summary justice, but were also popular.

Government reports about jihadist attacks persistently report the presence of the VDP at these incidents — a clear sign that the battered, under-equipped and poorly-trained armed forces are making extensive use of the group.

Map of Burkina Faso © AFP / AFP

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Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Emmanuel Zoungrana, a commander in a northern sector, said, “If we had enough numbers… we wouldn’t have to call on the VDP.”

“The army has been unable to recruit 10,000 or 5,000 people each year. This initiative helps us to compensate for that.”

The VDP are most useful in providing information and in their knowledge of local terrain, said Zoungrana.

“They can’t be expected to be super-fighters. That said, we have seen their courage and fighting spirit on the ground, and the results have been satisfactory.”

The death toll among the volunteers is high.

More than 100 have been killed so far this year, according to “Rambo,” and others have been murdered in their villages by jihadists for perceived collaboration with the army.

A retail worker who is a VDP member in central-northern Burkina said the auxiliaries in his area were mainly used as escorts for senior officials or convoys, but had also “helped dismantle terrorist bases.”

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“Before we launch any operation, we inform the army and ask their opinion,” he said.

– Rights accusations –

The fight against jihadists has led to mounting accusations against the armed forces — and now the VDP — of summary executions of civilians, especially of the Fulani, also called Peul, ethnic group.

Moctar Diao of another rights monitor, the Observatory for Human Dignity, says there are cases when the VDP have acted as “death squads, sowing desolation and fear under the cover of fighting terrorism.”

Among the incidents, “volunteers from Namsiguia (in northern Burkina) were identified as the killers of nine people who died in Boulsi-Baogo.

Belem Boureima, a 74-year-old farmer, and his family are among the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced by jihadist violence in Burkina Faso © AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO

“In early June, two school students were picked up and executed in cold blood by the VDP Tanwalbougou.”

He added: “When they (the VDP) operate alongside the army, it’s OK, but when they are left to themselves, they rule the roost in areas which have been abandoned (by the government).

“They extort businesses and the public, they rustle cattle, and people are unable to complain.”

Newton Ahmed Barry, a journalist who is president of the country’s National Electoral Commission, said that in some regions, Fulani people were excluded from volunteering from the VDP, when their contribution could be a trump card.

Zoungrana said the army was taking “every measure” to avert abuses and saw the VDP as playing a crucial role.

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“If the VDP, with good recruits and supervision, and the FDS covered lots of terrain and closed down the corridors where the enemy move around, victory would be assured.”

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Sakaja threatens to transfer cops who arrested him for drinking during curfew – Nairobi News

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Nairobi senator Johnson Sakaja spent the night at the Kilimani police station after he was arrested drinking at a bar along Dennis Pritt Road during curfew hours.

The Jubilee senator, who is a close ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, was taken in after causing scene at the ladies Lounge where he was found drinking past 1am with 10 others.

A police report at Kilimani police station indicates that the first team of officers had told the senator to leave the social joint but he defied, prompting them them call in their seniors.

Among the senior officers who arrived at the bar where Sakaja and others were drinking in defiance of curfew order was deputy Kilimani sub County police commander Adan Hassan.

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The lawmaker is said to have also defied his order to leave and dared them to handcuff him.

“On visiting the said place, (police) found about 10 seated outside drinking. Sakaja became violent raising hands to be handcuffed,” the report reads.

“He invited others not to get away hence he was arrested together with three others who others who refused to give their names for disobeying curfew orders and inciting others. In the course of arrest, the others escaped.”

The report says while in custody, Sakaja was asked to be given free bond but refused to leave police cells threatening to transfer all officers within 24 hours.

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