Human Rights Groups Demand Apology From Kenyan Police Chief Over Comment On Striking Doctors

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A group of civil and human rights groups in Kenya have demanded an apology from the country’s police chief after he vowed to take action against striking health workers.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) went on strike on 14 March over the non-payment of salary arrears, delays by the government to deploy medical interns and other grievances.

Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome on Sunday accused the health workers of being “a public nuisance” by blocking roads and blowing whistles during demonstrations, “thus causing discomfort to patients in hospital and the general public”.

“We have information that non-medics to cause havoc and terror to the public intend to join the ongoing processions, a move that poses a threat to public safety and security,” he said, adding that the police “have been instructed to deal with such situations firmly and decisively”.

KMPDU and eight civil and human rights groups demanded that Mr Koome retract and apologise for his statements or they would pursue legal action against him.

They further pledged to hold Mr Koome personally liable for any harm that befalls picketing and protesting health workers.