Poor rights record by Kenyan police to be confined to history

February 16, 2016 3:54 pm


"Unless we change the mindset of the people who supervise, lead and mange our officers, there is nowhere we are going," he cautioned/FILE
“Unless we change the mindset of the people who supervise, lead and mange our officers, there is nowhere we are going,” he cautioned/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – The National Police Service is working on a new strategy that will outline its human rights agenda after numerous concerns of grave violations.

Director of Reforms John Ochieng says under the strategy, national security shall be pursued in compliance with the law and utmost respect for human rights.

“Unless we change the mindset of the people who supervise, lead and mange our officers, there is nowhere we are going,” he cautioned.

“So, we need to turn around the OCS’s, the OCPD’s and the commanders to leaders who can implement and be champions of the reforms within the National Police Service.”

He spoke a day after the Independent Medico Legal Unit released a report accusing police of summarily executing 97 people last year alone.

The strategy will focus on four key things; community engagement, accountability, institutional linkages and collaboration and human rights of police.

“The goal of police reforms in Kenya is to transform the Kenyan Police and Administration Police into an efficient, effective, professional and accountable security agency that Kenyans can trust for their safety and security,” he said.

The reforms, he said are guided by the constitution, the national laws, the international instruments and standards that guide police and policing.

On community policing, he noted that tension between police and members of public persist “since the community has historical perspectives where their role was only to provide information and not as partners in policing.”

“This tension has resulted to the lack of trust and cooperation between the police and local communities.”

The strained relationship is also attributed “to police actions which tend to violate human rights.”

Due to this, he expressed frustrations in mending the relationship, since the public remains suspicious of their actions.

Once adopted, the strategy requires all county commanders and officers commanding stations to identify and enter into structured engagement with different communities.

They will also be required to carry out awareness activities on the role of the communities in policing.

Police officers will also be trained “at every level of community policing and human rights.”

On police accountability, officers will be required to explain or justify their activities, utilisation of resources, performance, operations and conduct.

Ochieng admitted that the service has encountered several hindrances in ensuring officers are accountable of their actions mostly because of the public lack of confidence on them.

“This has a lot of consequences to policing and includes the fact that the citizens will not report crimes and will not monitor the progress on the war on crime,” he lamented.

Other factors include lack of willingness by the police to institutionalise accountability and corruption.

The police service will be required to work with various government agencies and human right organisations in order to detect and prevent crime, in a lawful manner.

Some of the key agencies include the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Independent Policing Oversight Authority among others.

The rights of police officers are also enshrined in the strategy.

The government will be required to determine the appropriate remuneration and benefits for the service, develop fair and clear disciplinary procedures and ensure “they are efficient and effective.”


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