NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has also faulted certain proposals in the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill describing them as dangerous.
IPOA Chairman Macharia Njeru said that some of those proposals negatively impacted on their functions as outlined in the IPOA Act for instance preventing the media from broadcasting anything perceived to relate to terrorism would deter them from disseminating information as the authority relied on the media in publishing some of their reports.
“If this clause is left as it is now, it means that once we have very specific recommendations or information that we have to give by way of reports, which are usually through the media, it informs that it cannot be disseminated,” said Macharia.
They were annoyed at the fact that if this was passed as law, they would have to seek authority from the National Police Service which they oversight to broadcast certain information terming the situation as impossible.
Njeru took issue with Clause 62 which gives powers of arrest to the National Intelligence Service (NIS) – powers usually reserved for police officers – saying that if the amendment was to sail through, then the officers should be subjected to the same accountability required of police officers so that the NIS officers do not become rogue.
“We are therefore recommending that there be an addition to section 42, which shall state that a member of the National Intelligence Service, shall in respect of acts done or omitted to be done by him or her by virtue of this section be liable to the same extent as a member would have been liable in like circumstances if that member was a member of the National police Service—that will enable us as IPOA undertake investigations and probably even recommend prosecution against them if they abuse their powers,” stated Macharia.
While presenting their proposals before the National Assembly Security Committee chaired by Tiaty MP Asman Kamama , Macharia urged the committee to consider deleting Clause 103 which suggests that a police officer shall not be imprisoned for more than 10 years saying this was dangerous.
They were also concerned with the proposal that the National Intelligence Service should be furnished with any information they have sought saying this prejudices investigations especially on situations that touched on the institution and would thus affect the delivery of their mandate.
They were however excited by the proposal in clause 96 of the Bill which outlined that there should be a clear command structure in the County where the National Assembly would designate the most senior officer from either the Kenya Police Service or the Administration Police to head the Service.
They also asked that clause 103 of the Bill amending section 88 of the National Police Service Act stating the maximum period a police officer can be convicted as 10 years be deleted as this was bound to prevent the Police from facing stiffer penalties for crimes as murder and torture which usually attract longer sentences.
Macharia said this was dangerous as it would entrench impunity in the police service.
They however had two additional proposals that their officers be given the power to arrest and handle firearms, stating that this would allow them to comprehensively complete investigations as at the moment they had to rely on the police who were not as efficient.
According to Macharia, when they seek the help of the police in conducting ballistic tests on firearms seized from police officers, sometimes the police would ‘mischievously’ switch the firearms which would then result in contradicting results.
Owing to this they wanted an amendment inserted to allow a member of staff from IPOA, authorized by the board to be given powers, privileges and immunities of a police officer of the rank of Inspector of Police who can seize and carry a firearm for the purpose of investigation and production of exhibit in court so as to prevent them from relying on the Police.