LGBTQ members charged with unlawful assembly after holding demos in Nairobi
Some 16 members of the LGBTQ community are facing charges of taking part in an unlawful assembly after holding peaceful processions to demand for their rights near United Nations offices in Nairobi.
The accused persons were part of procession that was headed to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices to present their grievances when they were intercepted and arrested. Some of the protestors escaped.
The 16, who are all foreigners, were rounded up along General Mathenge road in Gingiri area where they were holding demonstrations on Thursday. They include 12 men and six women.
The suspects include four Rwandese, five Burundi nationals and seven Congolese. They denied the charges before Senior Resident Magistrate William Tullen at the Kibera Law Courts.
The defence lawyer Kennedy Murunga from Kituo Cha Sheria told the court that the suspects had duly notified the police of their intended procession.
Mr Murunga shared with the court, a copy of the letter to Nairobi Regional police commander James Mugera received at the police boss’ office on September 7. But Tullen declined to read the letter saying it should be part of the evidence and the case has not started.
The suspects said, in the letter, that their peaceful protest is anchored on Article 37 of the constitution of Kenya which makes the right to protest or picket a fundamental civic right.
“The aim of the demonstration is to express our displeasure at the outright discrimination and mistreatment of refugees by the UNHCR and its affiliate organizations,” the letter reads in part.
“These protests come in the backdrop of a petition that we presented to the UNHCR but was not addressed. The issues the refugees face are well documented and recognized internationally and all our hopes are usually on the mandated body – the UNHCR to address and find a durable solution.”
Murunga pleaded with the court to release the suspects on personal bond but prosecution counsel Brenda Maiyo opposed the application saying all the suspects are refugees who are likely to be a flight risk.
Tullen released them on a cash bail of Sh10,000 each. The case will be mentioned on September 22 for a pre-trial and fixing of hearing dates.
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