Toll-free number rolled out for protesters needing counselling

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Defenders Coalition and the Kenya Counseling and Psychological Association have announced free counselling services on a 24-hour basis via the number 0800 724 280.

The Defenders Coalition and the Kenya Counseling and Psychological Association have rolled out a toll-free number for victims of atrocities committed during the nationwide anti-Finance Bill protests to get help.

Free counselling services will be offered on a 24-hour basis via the number 0800 724 280, for people who suffered harm during the demonstration that ostensibly forced President William Ruto to refuse to sign the unpopular Bill.

"The number will offer free counselling and psychosocial support to families and victims of various atrocities," Defenders Coalition said on Facebook, adding that callers would also be linked to other support including referrals.

Human rights violations beyond the anti-tax protests will also be covered.

Assuring its commitment to protect and promote the rights of all Kenyans, the organisation urged the public to make use of the service and also report incidents that were not been shared with investigating agencies for appropriate action to be taken.

Data from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KHNCR) shows that 39 people were killed, 361 injured, and 627 arrested, while at least 32 were victims of enforced or involuntary disappearances during the protests between June 18 and July 1.

In a statement on July 1, the commission further noted reports that some people were still in hiding due to threats to their lives by unknown persons.

Following public anger due to deaths and other outcomes of the protests, President William Ruto has promised to look into recent police abductions as part of his promise to lead an independent police service that is not influenced by politics.

Ruto said so on Friday during an X Space engagement with the public, during which participants expressed anger at the Finance Bill, 2024, and other failures by his Kenya Kwanza government.

"Let's agree first that the era of extrajudicial killings is no longer with us. There's a new problem called abduction, and it is something I am going to exercise my mind on because the police have clear rules on how to arrest citizens if they have to," he said, without specifying or detailing courses of action.

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