ICC should try Ruto for protester ‘massacre’, Amnesty International urges


NAIROBI – Amnesty International has called for President William Ruto to be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the alleged “massacre” of peaceful protesters by Kenyan police. The human rights organization issued a statement on Wednesday, accusing Ruto of overseeing a violent crackdown that left 23 dead, 300 injured, and 22 abducted.

Protesters scatter as Kenya police spray a water canon at them during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, June 25, 2024 [Brian Inganga/AP Photo] 

"Ruto has overseen a planned and executable massacre against peaceful protesters who came out across the country to protest the punitive Finance Bill, 2024," Amnesty International said. 

The organization described the actions of the Kenyan police as "crimes against humanity," and charged Ruto with making "treasonous" decisions by deploying military forces and snipers against unarmed civilians.

Amnesty International criticized Ruto's national address on Tuesday night, in which he labeled the protests as "treasonous acts." 

The organization argued that it is Ruto's actions that are treasonous, citing his failure to address public grievances, illegal military deployment, and the use of snipers.

The statement also accused Ruto of inciting violence through his broadcast. 

"We believe that the massacre that happened in Githurai was fuelled by an inciteful and insensitive address President William Ruto gave yesterday at State House. Ruto spoke at 9 p.m., and the massacre started at 10 p.m." 

Amnesty International said the deployment of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) without National Assembly approval violated Article 241 (2, c) of Kenya’s Constitution.

Nationwide protests against the Finance Bill, which proposed taxes on cars, phones, bread, sanitary pads, and other commodities, began peacefully last week. 

However, violence erupted when police used live ammunition on protesters in Nairobi on Tuesday. In his broadcast, Ruto thanked security officers for their efforts, ignoring the reported killings.

Hours after Ruto's address, Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Bare Duale announced the deployment of the military to support the police. Despite the brutal clampdown, protesters continued to defy the authorities on Wednesday. 

In response, Ruto announced the withdrawal of the controversial bill in a live broadcast, stating, "Listening keenly to the people of Kenya who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this Finance Bill 2024, I concede and therefore I will not sign the 2024 Finance Bill and it shall subsequently be withdrawn."

Even with the bill's withdrawal, Kenyans are mobilizing for a massive march on Thursday to shut down the country. 

International concern has mounted, with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, and other nations issuing a joint statement condemning the violence.

Ruto, who has been in office since 2022, has introduced several taxes to address Kenya’s $80 billion debt and reduce borrowing. The Finance Bill, now withdrawn, sparked widespread protests across the nation.

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