NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 25 – Kenya’s civil society has embarked on a spirited campaign to mobilise the public in demanding full implementation of recommendations of the Task Force on Police Reforms.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) says it is imperative for the recommendations to be implemented because “Kenyans have been yearning for reforms for a long time.”
At a public forum organised by the KNCHR in Nairobi, representatives of various organisations accused the top police leadership of ‘frustrating the reform agenda’ by attempting to taint the reputation of some of the commissioners and rubbishing an interim report which has been circulating for a couple of weeks now.
Vice Chairman of the KNCHR Hassan Omar Hassan said the attempts by the police bosses at Vigilance House to resist reforms is in itself “a clear sign of the high level impunity they perpetuate at the expense of Kenyans.”
“Therefore it will be wrong to have senior police officers position themselves to try to block the reforms. I think it is expected that heads will roll and at a very high level rather than at junior levels simply to appease a small political expediency,” he said.
Mr Hassan urged Kenyans to support the Philip Ransley-led task force report and demand its implementation.
He said the commission was concerned at reports that the top leadership at Vigilance House has been releasing unsigned statements for publication in local newspapers scoffing at the Police Task Force on reforms, and terms the move as signs of desperation.
“Some recommendations came up about what could be the recommendations of the task force on police reforms, the rank is turning up in terms of putting up strategies
to ensure that they defeat the police reforms. What they are not telling the people is that these recommendations talks about the general welfare of the entire police department, it is not just talking about heads rolling,” he said.
“And therefore, what is coming up is that continuity of impunity and therefore the need for Kenyans to take that destiny in their own hands to ensure that manful reforms are done not only for the benefit of the Kenyan people but also to the police themselves,” he added.
Transparency International (TI) in it’s submission at the public forum proposed that the police be headed by a civilian commission to make it accountable to the citizens.
TI’s Executive Director Job Ogonda said the current situation where the police leadership is only accountable to the Executive, makes it difficult for the citizenry to have confidence in it.
“The civilian commission does not have to be exclusively civilian, it should have representation of government and the business sector; then and only then will the crisis of confidence between State and citizens that we have in Kenya today will be bridged,” he said.
In recent weeks, unsigned statements from Vigilance House have been in circulation castigating the task force and its interim report and has in many occasions sought to question the credibility of some of the task force members.
One of the statements seen by Capital News and rumoured to have originated from Vigilance House, criticizes members of the task force as a bunch of former Provincial Administration officials who are “likely to give recommendations that favour the Administration Police”.
Another of the documents also in our possession claims that the task force chairman Justice (Rtd) Philip Ransley has in fact, been making visits to Harambee House.
Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe has vehemently denied the unsigned statements were originating from Vigilance House but sources maintain they were authored and distributed by senior police officers opposed to the implementation of the task force recommendations.
One of the documents titled ‘Disband Police Task Force for Mediocrity’ states that the task force had overstepped its mandate by recommending the sacking of the top police leadership instead of concentrating on giving a roadmap to policy and institutional reforms.
Sources say Vigilance House is unhappy with a raft of recommendations in the interim report, particularly calls to sack all officers holding the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) among others.
“The Task Force provides no reasons to justify the recommendations to review the suitability of officers of the rank of ACP and above. It is shocking that any Task Force can make such a recommendation,” the six page document disowned by Mr Kiraithe states.
The interim report of the Task Force calls for the sacking of Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali and all other senior officer of ACP rank and above for what it terms “collective failure.”
The report states: “The Task Force is of the view that only if there is a visible change at the top leadership level of the police will the public be convinced to accept that the government is serious about reforms,” Justice (rtd) Ransley states in his report.
“Only then will it be possible to effect a turn-around in the public trust and confidence in the police,” it adds and points to the urgency in which the reforms must be carried out.
“The public therefore, expects to see new leadership in the police as soon as possible if government commitment to police reform is to be seen to be credible,” it states.
Justice (rtd) Ransley is recommending that “persons with proven leadership and managerial skills, high moral integrity, an ability to spearhead reform, be appointed to succeed Maj Gen Ali at Vigilance House.”