, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21- The mandate of the inaugural board of Independent Policing Oversight Authority is over, after six years in office.
But how is their scorecard?
The outgoing board of IPOA on Monday released a detailed six-year report, capturing areas they have covered in ensuring members of the National Police Service strictly adhere to their code of conduct.
Of the 9,000 cases lodged with the authority, only four have been successfully convicted.
Cases of extra-judicial killings and police harassment remain rampant across all parts of the country, with many victims retiring to fate.
In the six years, the authority has received Sh3 billion from the national coffers, some Sh34 million being used to pay its eight commissioners led by the outgoing chairperson Macharia Njeru.
The commission has also received millions of donor funding, more so from the United States.
“We give special thanks to the United States Embassy for funding our comprehensive ICT infrastructure and forensic equipment and further providing us with FBI officers to provide specialised training for our staff,” Njeru said during Monday’s event.
– IPOA’s defence –
But IPOA says under the circumstances they were exposed to and being an inaugural board, they have done much.
According to Njeru, during the six years, they have managed to “set up the organisational structure, create policies and working processes, recruit and train competent staff, set up effective headquarters in Nairobi and Regional offices in Mombasa, Garissa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Meru, Nyeri, Kakamega and Lodwar.”
During the tenure, he said the institution concluded 752 investigations, inspected 885 police premises and monitored 151 police operations, and submitted 164 recommendations.
Njeru said some 103 files have been forwarded to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“About 64 cases are in various stages of hearings in court,” he said.
But top in their list of achievements, he said, is successful convictions of three police officers accused of human rights abuses.
– IPOA’S analysis of complaints against police –
According to IPOA, abuse of office by police stand at 45.1 pc, harassment (18.1pc), issues of police welfare (7.6pc), assault by police (6.5pc), deaths associated by police officers (3.3pc), serious injuries caused by police (3.8pc), sexual offences by police (0.4pc) and other misconduct (13.8pc).
Going with the statistics, Njeru said, “the biggest problem in the National Police Service is management.”
He said majority of police commanders lack management and leadership skills.
“There is no effective coordination, coherent strategic direction and elaborate accountability mechanisms,” he pointed out.
– Input by Stakeholders –
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, DPP Noordin Haji and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet were among senior government officials who attended the function.
CS Matiangi, lauded IPOA for a job well done and stated that he will be at the fore front in implementing some of their recommendations.
“We have a new spirit in the country of moving in the right direction. We will provide all the support that we can to IPOA and other agencies to be able to move forward,” he said.
He committed to protect the independence of IPOA in ensuring they execute their mandate effectively.
Director of Public Prosecutions Haji on his part said that oversight bodies like IPOA must be given a chance to execute their mandate.
The DPP stressed that they play a critical role in ensuring authorities don’t abuse their offices.
He specifically noted that the authority has in past faced resistance but insists that it must be allowed to play their role, to ensure there’s no room for extra-judicial killings.
“As we endeavour to create a just and democratic society, oversight bodies like IPOA are critical in ensuring that we all observe the rule of law,” he said.
Haji committed to ensure all cases investigated by IPOA are expeditiously processed and those found culpable brought to book.
“This is a critical institution that must be allowed to play its role, in ensuring the police excesses, where they occur, are checked and that there is no room for extra-judicial killings where they occur,” he asserted.
“The office of ODPP will endeavour to work with IPOA. I assure you, that the offices of ODPP, once investigations are completed by IPOA, will prosecute those found culpable.”
Its term ended Monday amid fears of delays in recruiting a new team.
The DPP has urged Parliament to address the legal lacuna.
IPOA came to office in 2011 after police killed hundreds of Kenyans during violence that followed the disputed elections in 2007.
It can investigate the police on its own initiative or after receiving a complaint from the public and has the power to order any serving or retired officer to appear before it and to produce documents.
The delay in recruiting a new team could affect investigations of various cases they are handling.