As we condemn George Floyd Floyd killing, let’s clean our house
Today, I join millions of global citizens to express my outrage over the recent death of American citizen George Floyd at the hands of police.
The persistent police violence against the Black community in the US and other jurisdictions is abhorrent.
Floyd’s death in the hands of a White police officer in Minneapolis is just but one of the many documented victims of racial profiling and police violence in the US against people of colour.
Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin are among many such victims of killings on account of their skin colour.
Floyd’s death exposes the murk in race relations in the society which easily permeates systems of governance.
The police in the US have been called out for the excessive targeting of not only the black people but also such groups like religious, indigenous and ethnic minorities as well as gender minorities.
It is a reflection of deep-rooted societal malaise that counters the imagery of social, economic and political progress and respect for democracy and human rights that America has proclaimed itself to uphold.
As a believer in civil rights and freedoms, I bemoan the increasing loss of global leadership of the US in advocating for human rights.
When one commits to champion the universalism of the UN declaration on human rights that calls on us to stand up against disrespect and violation of human rights, geographical scope and time becomes non-existent.
Human rights violation anywhere the world over ought to be condemned.
I join with national, regional and global human rights and civil society actors to call for a thorough, independent, and transparent investigation of the killing of Floyd and other acts of police violence.
The racial profiling is not unique to the US; there are other jurisdictions that have normalised black oppression from all fronts.
Floyd’s death comes in the wake of a global pandemic that has resulted in a serious public health and human rights crisis.
It is disheartening that while condemning this travesty of justice elsewhere, Kenya cannot proudly speak of its good record in policing.
Extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance and police violence that has resulted in serious injuries particularly among economically marginalised groups especially in the informal settlements have tended to describe policing during the Covid-19 crisis.
For instance, statistics by Defenders Coalition, an organisation that works on protecting human rights defenders against persecution, indicate that since the first case of the virus was reported in Kenya in March, human tights monitors have documented 21 police killings and hundreds of injuries during enforcement of measures intended to minimise the spread of the virus.
Human rights defenders have been victims of arrests, containment at quarantine facilities and malicious prosecution because of speaking out against human rights violations.
Journalists, medical service providers like nurses and medical officers as well as lawyers who offer essential services have not been spared.
The fear of the violence, more than infections have forced the sick and women in labour to keep off medical facilities, exacerbating the medical crisis .
The recent announcement by the Office of the Director of Public prosecutions approving the prosecution of a police officer who is suspected of fatally shooting Yassin Moyo, a primary school pupil at the balcony of their home in Kiamaiko, Huruma offers a glimmer of hope for many. —The writer is the Executive Director, Defenders Coalition