Kenya: Why LSK Wants Curfew to Start at 10pm

The law society of Kenya has moved to the high court seeking nullification of the "draconian" 7pm-5am curfew imposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week as part of measures to contain the coronavirus spread.

Through lawyers Omwanza Ombati and Wakesho Kililo, the LSK wants the high court to nullify the curfew because "it is illegal, illegitimate and improportionate".

LSK says, in the suit, that the curfew imposes a great and imminent danger to the general health and safety of thousands of poor and vulnerable members of the society terming it as disproportionate and draconian in a free and democratic society.

The LSK has sued IG Hillary Mutyambai, Interior CS Fred Matiangi, AG Kihara Kariuki and Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.

The society accuses Mutyambai of unleashing a campaign of terror and violence against the public on Friday.

"The police teargassed and violently assaulted vulnerable persons like pregnant women, the elderly and sickly. They also bludgeoned providers of exempted essential services such watchmen, supermarket workers, food truck drivers and medical personnel on their way to or from work," the LSK states in its suit filed at the Milimani law courts on Monday.

The police also "recklessly" hoarded large crowds on the ground contrary to World Health Organisation's [WHO] advice on social distancing.

Moreover, police stopped the media from monitoring their movement and assaulted journalists covering the process.

LSK said the constitutionality of the curfew order is a question of public interest whose determination absolutely cannot wait, otherwise, the police will continue to violate the Kenyans' right to fair trial, dignity and freedom cruel and degrading treatment.

"The police will also continue to exacerbate the spread of Covid -19 hence threatening the health and life of the whole population. Further, the unnecessary disruption of essential services is likely to ferment social unrest," it states.

The LSK wants the start time for the curfew to be moved from 7pm to 10pm.

The lawyers' umbrella body wants the high court to restrain Mutyambai from using unreasonable force during the curfew and hold him accountable for unreasonable use of force against members of thee public.

The LSK also wants Mutyambai prohibited from interfering with media coverage of the curfew.

It also wants Mutyambai to file guidelines on the conduct of police officers enforcing the curfew before the court for scrutiny before they are published on national newspapers.

Journalists were among those clobbered by the police at the onset of the curfew on Friday.

No orders were issued immediately although the LSK had sought the matter to be considered as urgent and heard by any means possible.

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