US, Britain, Germany & Ten Other Embassies Condemn Human Rights Violations in Anti-Finance Bill Protests

President William Ruto (in brown) with US Senator Chris Coons (right), Amb Meg Whitman (left) and CS Alfred Mutua at State House.
President William Ruto (in brown) with US Senator Chris Coons (right), Amb Meg Whitman (left) and CS Alfred Mutua at State House.

Thirteen embassies in Kenya have strongly criticised the government's handling of the ongoing anti-finance bill protests, which erupted on Tuesday, June 25.

The diplomatic missions from Britain, the USA, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Romania, and Belgium have expressed deep concern over human rights violations and urged President William Ruto’s administration to uphold constitutional laws.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the ambassadors collectively emphasised Kenya's constitutional right to peaceful protest.

“As friends and partners to Kenya, we note that Kenya's constitution guarantees the right to peaceful protest. All actors have the responsibility to respect, uphold, promote and fulfil the principles of democracy and the rule of law, particularly by ensuring a proportionate security response,” the statement read.

The group further condemned the violence that has marred the recent protests. “We are deeply concerned by the violence witnessed in many parts of the country during the recent protests and are especially shocked by the scenes witnessed outside the Kenyan Parliament,” the ambassadors stated. 

Protesters teargassed in Nairobi
Protesters teargassed in Nairobi.
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They also expressed regret over the loss of lives and injuries sustained, noting with alarm the use of live ammunition against protesters.

Highlighting the statement from Chief Justice Martha Koome, the diplomats voiced their concerns about the alleged abductions of protesters. “We welcome the statement released by the Hon Chief Justice Martha Koome and are deeply concerned by allegations of abductions of protesters.”

The ambassadors called for calm and urged all parties to seek peaceful resolutions through dialogue. “We welcome civic engagement by all Kenyans, in particular the youth, in addressing issues of vital public concern. We call for restraint on all sides, and encourage all leaders to find peaceful solutions through constructive dialogue,” they added.

Amnesty International had earlier reported that five individuals were fatally shot while assisting the injured during the protests. The organisation also noted that the violence resulted in 31 injuries, including 13 from live bullets, four from rubber bullets, three from launcher canisters, and 11 sustaining minor injuries.

The Kenya Red Cross confirmed that its staff were among the injured in the escalating violence. “Our vehicles have been attacked. Staff and volunteers injured,” the Red Cross stated, highlighting the growing risks faced by both protesters and humanitarian workers.

The unrest reached a critical point when protesters overpowered police at the Parliament Buildings in Nairobi, breaching the fence and entering the premises. Images circulated by showed significant property damage within Parliament and its surroundings, underscoring the intensity of the protests.

The Finance Bill 2024, which has triggered the widespread demonstrations, includes new tax measures that many Kenyans view as excessively harsh. 

The government's attempt to raise revenue through these taxes has met with fierce resistance, culminating in the dramatic and violent protests.

US Ambassador Meg Whitman listens during the visit to the Silicon Valley in San Francisco on September 15, 2023.
A photo of US Ambassador Meg Whitman following President William Ruto's speech at Silicon Valley in San Francisco on September 15, 2023.
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