Citizens across the country took to the streets to voice their opposition to the newly proposed Finance Bill 2024.

Statement: #RejectFinanceBill2024: Kenya’s Youth Erupt Online, Face Crackdown

The Kenyan protests against the Finance Bill, 2024 have been primarily driven by concerns over the rising cost of living and the perceived impact of new taxes proposed in the bill. The protests which have largely been organized through digital platforms like TikTok, X, WhatsApp and Facebook have brought together the young Kenyans mostly referred to as Gen Z and Millennials to protest and call for the rejection of the Finance Bill 2024.  The demonstrations were organized through various methods and platforms to mobilize public participation and convey the grievances of the citizens.

Since the first #RejectFinanceBill2024 demonstrations on 18 June 2024, we have noted with concern various human rights violations against those participating and expressing their opinion on social media. Several individuals, including content creators, influencers, digital activists and human rights defenders have experienced threats, cyber harassment, arrests and abductions, for exercising their constitutional rights. Likewise, platforms such as X and TikTok, have on several occasions muted the visibility of the hashtag #RejectFinanceBill2024.

We would like to remind the perpetrators of these violations that Articles 32 and 33 of the Kenyan Constitution guarantee the right to freedom of expression, including the right to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference. These rights exercised in the digital space or elsewhere are meant to be protected, and not infringed upon, as what is being conducted by the police and other government agencies.

It has been reported that over the past few days, several people have been abducted, arrested and are currently illegally detained incommunicado by the National Police Service in undisclosed locations for supporting the ongoing protests. Some of those arrested include Harriet Onyengesa, Gabriel Oguda, Drey Mwangi, Lois Juma, Osama Otero, Ernest Nyerere, Nadia Nthia, Shadrack Kiprono, Shad Khalif, and John Frank Githiaka (Franje).

These actions by the Kenyan government represent a blatant disregard for the law and a worrying attempt to stifle freedom of expression, assembly and association. The recent measures create a chilling effect on free speech, sending a message to all Kenyans that critical voices will be silenced, and organizing online is criminal.

We have also noted that during the protests against the Finance Bill 2024, the police harassed journalists who were covering the protests. There are reports that Collins Olunga, a journalist with the AFP has been shot and injured by the police. We would like to remind the police that the Kenyan constitution guarantees the Freedom of the Media and journalists should be allowed to do their jobs without threats, harassment, intimidation or violence.

We note that the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has committed to keep the internet on, allaying fears of an impending internet shutdown, we urge all stakeholders to remain vigilant to ensure that this is upheld.

We call upon:

  • The National Police Service to unconditionally release all the 12 Kenyans and all the protestors currently illegally detained.
  • The Government to uphold the law and constitutionalism and ensure that those detained are brought to court within 24 hours and afforded their right to a fair trial.
  • The Government to issue a public undertaking that no content creators, or any Kenyan for that matter, will be arrested for expressing their opinion online or for supporting and participating in the current protests;
  • The Government to respect the right to freedom of expression, information, privacy, association and assembly for all Kenyans in line with the  Constitution of Kenya;
  • To media, social media users, and protestors, to exercise their constitutional rights freely and document any violations of human rights.
  • To social media platforms X and TikTok, to stop censoring content on their platforms and allow Kenyans to express, assemble and associate freely on social media without undue restrictions.
  • The independent state agencies such as the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Independent Police Oversight Authority and the National Police Service Commission, expeditiously investigate the conduct of the National Police Service and hold all those responsible accountable.

Kenya has a documented history of being a champion of free speech in Africa. These recent actions threaten to undermine that reputation. We urge the Kenyan government to live up to its commitments and ensure a free and open society for all.


A coalition of The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), KICTANet, Internet Without Borders (IWB), Tribeless Youth, Mzalendo Trust, and Watoto Watch Network, Internews Kenya under KENSAFE Banner to promote and safeguard a democratic, safe, and inclusive digital space.



David Indeje information

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