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Civil Society groups sue IG Koome over doctors’ strike

IG Koome

Nine civil society organizations have sued Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome over the ongoing doctors’ strike.

The rights groups accused the police boss of curtailing the rights of the medics to strike, assemble, protest and picket.

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This follows a statement from the IG on Sunday that the doctors’ strike threatened public safety and security.

According to the suit, Koome has been personally sued, as such any court orders issued will directly target him rather than the National Police Service.

On April 14, 2024, Koome said police would “deal decisively and firmly” with the striking and picketing medics.

The groups wrote to Koome, demanding an apology and a withdrawal of the directive failure to which they will seek legal redress.

“Applicants fear that this directive requires police officers to forcefully disperse peaceful and unarmed protests by the medics,” the suit says.

Doctors have been on strike since March 13, 2024, demanding improvements in the country’s healthcare system, including hiring trainee doctors, better working conditions, and equal pay for equal work.

The government that maintains the industrial action is unlawful has insisted that talks can only resume if doctors end their strike, a condition that the medics claim is dishonest.

They have planned multiple protests to pressure the government to address their grievances, citing their constitutional right.

In the lawsuit, the organizations argue that Koome’s directive endangers the rights and lives of medics by potentially motivating police officers to use force to enforce his order.

They also want all police officers restrained from enforcing Koome’s orders.

The organizations involved in the lawsuit are KHRC, Katiba Institute, ICJ Kenya, and Transparency International Kenya. Others are TISA, AFRICOG, Siasa Place, Tribless Youth and MUHURI. Law Society of Kenya (LSK), KMPDU, and Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) are interested parties.

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