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Amid neck hold controversy, Ottawa questioned about methods it wants RCMP to outlaw


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Ottawa – The federal government is facing questions about exactly what kind of force it is asking police to stop using, as the RCMP is criticized over its decision not to outlaw a controversial neck hold.

The RCMP says that it still allows officers to use the “carotid control” hold even though other forces, such as the Ontario Provincial Police, stopped using it three decades ago.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino had directed Commissioner Brenda Lucki to bar police from using the method in a mandate letter last year.

He also asked RCMP to stop using two other tools — tear gas and rubber bullets — that have received less public attention.

Western University criminologist Michael Arntfield says the letter caused confusion because those are “outmoded” methods no longer used by police in Canada, and he is urging Mendicino to clarify whether he meant to ban less-lethal alternatives that the RCMP does use.

Mendicino’s office has not responded to questions about the matter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2023.

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Anti-government protesters in Kenya march in Nairobi streets

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A protesters reacts next to a burning barricade during a mass rally called by the opposition leader Raila Odinga over the high cost of living in Kibera Slums, in Nairobi, Monday, March 27, 2023. Police in Kenya are on high alert ahead of the second round of anti-government protests organized by the opposition that has been termed as illegal by the government. Police chief Japheth Koome insists that Monday’s protests are illegal but the opposition leader Raila Odinga says Kenyans have a right to demonstrate. (AP Photo/Samson Otieno)

By Evelyne Musambi in Nairobi

Nairobi, Kenya (AP) — Thousands of anti-government protesters marched on the streets of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Monday despite the government’s declarartion that the protests are illegal.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga joined protesters on the western side of the capital where his convoy attracted thousands of supporters and he addressed them at various stops calling for electoral justice and reduced prices for food items.

Police used a water cannon and teargas to disperse supporters. Police chief Japheth Koome insists that the protests are illegal but Odinga says Kenyans have a right to demonstrate.

Odinga and his party, Azimio la Umoja–One Kenya Coalition, are leading the protests against the rising cost of living and calling for President William Ruto’s resignation saying he wasn’t validly elected in last year’s election.

More than a dozen civil society groups have in a joint statement expressed concern over police declaring Monday’s protests illegal and urged authorities to uphold people’s constitutional right to peaceful demonstrations.

Ruto over the weekend urged Odinga to face him directly and “stop terrorizing the country.”

Odinga last week said the protests would be held twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

Odinga’s plan in last week’s protests was to march to the president’s offices at State House but police erected barriers to prevent public access and motorists were directed to alternative routes.

Ruto is currently out of the country visiting Germany.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua shared photos of himself at his office early Monday morning and urged Kenyans to report to work.

Nairobi’s central business district remained calm but most businesses were closed on Monday morning due to the uncertainty over demonstrations and if there would be violence.

There were reports of some violence directed at Odinga and his supporters. Some people raided a farm in the outskirts of the capital owned by the family of the former president Uhuru Kenyatta, cutting trees and taking away sheep, according to local media reports. The former president supported Odinga in 2022 elections.

Odinga’s gas cylinder manufacturing business near the central business district was pelted with stones.

There was a heavy police presence within the capital and surrounding neighborhoods on Monday. Police have dispersed crowds that gathered in Kibera and Mathare, poor areas of Nairobi.

A resident on Kibera, Emily Atieno, told the Associated Press she would continue to protest until the “price of cooking flour is reduced”. Another protester Mario Omari said protests would continue until Ruto resigns from office.

Local media have been warned against broadcasting Monday’s protests. The Communication Authority of Kenya said the airing of last week’s demonstrations caused panic, incited the public and threatened peace.

The High Court, however, ruled that the authority’s notice was unconstitutional and upheld media freedom in response to a petition filed by a civil society group, a journalists’ union and the Law Society.

In 2018, Kenya’s main television stations were taken off air for one week by the regulator after airing Odinga’s “mock” swearing in ceremony where he claimed to be the people’s president.” Odinga had rejected the 2017 election results and organized anti-government protests.

Police last week threatened to take action against those pictured hurling stones at officers.

They released photos of people who they said were wanted for crimes committed during the protests but were called out by local media outlets for using old photos and others that were taken during protests in Burundi.

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An anti-government protest in Czech capital draws thousands

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People gather for an anti-government demonstration at the Vencesla’s Square in Prague, Czech Republic, Saturday, March 11, 2023. Thousands of Czechs rallied on Saturday in the capital against the government, protesting high inflation and demanding the country’s end of military support for Ukraine invaded by Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE (AP) — Thousands of people in the Czech Republic rallied against the government Saturday, protesting high inflation and demanding an end to the country’s military support for Ukraine.

A new political group, PRO, organized the rally at Prague’s Wenceslas Square as an anti-poverty event. As participants called on the coalition government to resign, party leader Jindrich Rajchl said they want “a government to care first of all about the interests of the Czech citizens.”

His group, whose name translates in English to Law, Respect, Expertise, blames the European Union for soaring energy prices. Inflation slightly dropped to 16.7% in Czechia in February from 17.5% a month earlier.

PRO also wants the Czech government to stop taking actions that are intended to reduce misinformation and fake news.

Ukraine was a key issue at Saturday’s demonstration, where the crowd called for a peaceful solution to the war. Some people had the letter “Z,” a symbol of the Russian military, on their bags.

“Stop the war, stop NATO,” they chanted.

The Czech Republic has staunchly supported the government in Kyiv since Russian troops invaded Ukraine. The country has provided weapons for the Ukrainian military and taken in a half-million refugees.

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