“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they can grow up in peace.” – Koffi Annan
It is extremely unfortunate that men and women who are entrusted to protect not only children but the public in general, betray this trust, violate children’s rights, fail to protect young minds and instead instill wanton fear among
The whole country watched in utter shock and disbelief as the Kenyan Police, with impunity, hurled teargas canisters at innocent young children on Monday, January 19th, Lang’ata Road Primary School as they demonstrated against the grabbing of their play ground by an alleged private developer. The action was not only cruel and barbaric but archaic to say the least.
Article 53(1) (a) of the constitution states clearly that every child has the right to be protected from abuse, all forms of violence, inhuman treatment and punishment, among others. It is very sad that those in the society tasked with the responsibility of protecting these rights, turned against the very people who they are supposed to protect.
We stand by the children in ensuring that justice is granted to them. All the police officers who were involved in this heinous acts must be made accountable for their acts and disciplined accordingly. It is not only legally wrong that the police used excessive force during this protest but it is also immoral that they did so to innocent harmless children. We want to remind the police service that it is their duty to uphold order and respect for the rule of law so as to maintain the fabric of our society.
The children, noble citizens of this great country, were exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, demonstrate, and picket as provided for under Article 37 of the Constitution. Furthermore they were safeguarding and protecting their property and by extension their environment, both rights which are deeply enshrined in our constitution.
Kituo reminds the Police and by extension the citizens of this country- ‘private developers’ included, that the right to education as provided for in Article 43 of the Constitution does not only stop at children attending class but also when they participate in co-curricular activities in order for them to develop socially, emotionally and physically. Play is crucial to optimal child development and has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. Denying them this is an infringement to their right which is unacceptable.
To the purported developers who have a high affinity for public land, especially that belonging to public institution, Kituo is putting them on notice. We are telling them that it is wrong to grab land belonging to institutions and they should desist from this vice. Play is integral to the academic environment. It ensures that the school setting attends to the social and emotional development of children as well as their cognitive development. We shall endeavor to protect this at all times.
We appreciate the fact that government has strongly come out to condemn the act and to apologize. But we are saying this verbal apology alone is not enough if disciplinary measures shall not be taken against all those who are culpable.
Kituo Cha Sheria will ensure that the truth is revealed and justice granted to these innocent pupils, who were physically injured during the demonstration. We will seek legal redress should the government fail to act and grant justice to the victims of the mayhem. We fully support the Law Society of Kenya and truly wish them all the best as they endeavor to unravel the truth. We guarantee them our support.
Gertrude Angote- Executive Director, Kituo Cha Sheria.