Kenya police brace for major changes

August 30, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 30 – The administrative command structure of the country’s two major security organs is set to change once Parliament enacts legislation as enshrined in the new Constitution.

The National Police Service Bill is among the five Bills that Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo wants expedited as the government moves to implement the new law.

“I know the bill on reforming the Police Service is also ready. It is only waiting some polishing and approval by the Cabinet,” the Minister told Capital News.

“This is also another of the Bills I would want passed by Parliament before Christmas,” he added.

The new Constitution calls for the establishment of the National Police Service within two years after the promulgation date.

Once established, it will bring together the Kenya Police Force and the Administration Police to be governed under one command – the Inspector General.

Whereas there will be no merger of the two security organs, their commanders will report to the Inspector General who will be appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament for a single term of four years.

Under this new structure, the Inspector General shall have two deputies, one of them will be in charge of the Kenya Police Service and the other will head the Administration Police Service.

The two Deputy Inspectors General shall be appointed by the President in accordance with the recommendation of the National Police Service Commission.

An official at the Office of the President told Capital News that a team of technocrats has already been assembled to work on a defined structure for the two services.

“There is a lot that needs to be defined clearly, for instance, since the top most rank of both the services will change, then it means the ranks of the officers who will serve under them will equally change,” the official speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to discuss pending security matters or resolutions said.

“The team is also working on how to harmonise the insignias that will be used by the senior officers as well as a clear command structure all the way down,” he added.

Whereas the Kenya Police Service will continue to carry out its mandate, the Administration Police Service will largely serve in the devolved government of counties as is the case under the current structure of the Provincial Administration, the official said.

The new Constitution is silent on the specific roles the two police services will play in maintaining law and order and does not state if their uniforms will be similar.

The Kenya Police’s official uniform for junior ranks is a blue shirt for men, and dark blue trouser and skirt for ladies. Women wear white blouses.

In the Administration Police Service, officers mainly use jungle green as their official uniform.

Officers privy to the new-look police service under the new Constitution told Capital News both the departments will maintain the current uniform which they have been using.

Chapter 14 of the new Constitution under Article 238 where the National Security organs falls states that “The national security shall be pursued in compliance with the law and with the utmost respect for the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Essentially, it means police officers from the two services will now be required to ditch the culture of impunity in their operations and respect the people’s human rights.

Capital News has established that Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere has already sent dispatch to all provincial and formational commanders countrywide to ensure their officers familiarise themselves with the Bill of Rights in Chapter 4.

On Thursday, the police chief told participants who mainly included senior officers at a training workshop in Nairobi that “it is imperative to have a total culture change in the entire police department, to avoid breaching the new Constitution.”

“We are already struggling to change the negative perception the public has on the police, with the new Constitution, you must ensure it is fully respected. The public expects a lot from us, and there is no shortcut but to deliver,” Mr Iteere said.

Administration Police Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua said “all the officers have been encouraged to read and understand the new Constitution. Everyone must be ready for positive change because it is beneficial to us all.”

Unlike the previous Constitution which did not clearly define the structure of the police command, the new Constitution bars any state officer from giving instructions to the Inspector General or officers under him.

The holder of that office shall operate independently from any interference from any quarters, other than the Cabinet Secretary responsible for the services who will be allowed to lawfully give direction to the I-G with respect to any matter of policy for the National Police Service.

But even then, such instructions must be in writing and in line with the law.

“No person may give a direction to the I-G with respect to the investigation of any particular offence [s], enforcement of the law against any particular person [s] or the employment, assignment, promotion, suspension or dismissal of any member of the National Police Service,” article 245 [4] of the new law states in part.

Days where the President appointed a Police Commissioner for a period of three years subject to countless renewals are now gone.

The new Constitution states that “The Inspector General shall be appointed for a single four-year-term and is not eligible for re-appointment.

It also outlines situations where the holder of that office may be removed from office by the President.

Such situations include serious violation of the new constitution or any other law, including a contravention of Chapter Six which outlines issues Leadership and Integrity.

The I-G may also be hounded out of office for gross misconduct whether in the performance of the office holder’s functions or otherwise physical or mental incapacity to perform his official duties.
Others reasons of removal from office include incompetence, bankruptcy or any other just cause.

Under the new constitution, a National Police Service Commission will be established and will consist of a person qualified to be appointed as a High Curt Judge, two retired senior police officers and three persons of integrity who have served the public with distinction as well as the I-G and his/her two deputies.

“The commission shall be responsible for recruiting and appointing persons to hold or act in the offices in the service, confirm appointments and determine promotions ad transfers within the National Police Service as well as discipline matters.

The new law is also clear on the composition of the National Police Service.

“The composition of the National Police Service shall reflect the regional and ethnic diversity of the people of Kenya,” Article 246 [4] of the new law states.


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