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IPOA probes 18 deaths caused by police in past one week

According to police, the 18 were suspects of crime and had apparently caused unknown pain to locals in their respective places/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 30- The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has launched investigations over the killing of 18 people in different incidents by police.

Of those, 6 people were killed on Sunday in Dandora, 3 were killed in Mathare and Huruma areas while three others were shot dead last week on Tuesday in Yatta.

According to police, the 18 were suspects of crime and had apparently caused unknown pain to locals in their respective places.

But IPOA wants to establish the circumstances that led to their killing, whether they were armed and if they posed any threat to the officers involved.

In a statement, the authority insists the law requires deaths caused by police to be investigated with a view of ensuring the 18 are not victims of extra-judicial killing.

“The various matters are under investigations. Upon conclusion, if culpability is found, the Authority will ensure the responsible officers face the full force of the law through appropriate criminal and/or disciplinary recommendations to the Director of Public Prosecutions and other suitable Government Agencies,” the authority affirmed.

“On its own motion, and acting pursuant to its statutory mandate under Section 25(1) of the IPOA Act that requires the Authority to investigate deaths and serious injuries caused by Police action, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has launched independent investigations into the incidents with a view of unravelling the circumstances that led to the fatal shootings, and more particularly whether the police officers were
justified in the use of their firearms.”

The authority is set to meet the families of those who were killed.

Under Section 25(1) of IPOA Act, the authority is mandated to investigate any death or serious injury including death or serious injury while in Police custody, which are the result of Police action or were caused by members of the Service while on duty.

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Upon such an incident, police are required by Section 25(2) of the Act to, “take all necessary steps to secure evidence which may be relevant for the investigation, including pictorial and written evidence, and shall in writing notify the Authority, and supply it with the evidence and all other facts relevant to the matter, including, if available, the names and contact details of all persons who may be able to assist the Authority should it decide to conduct an investigation.”

This comes as a section of human rights Organisations independently probes deaths of 6 other suspects in a robbery incident in Juja.

If confirmed to be cases of extra-judicial killings, this is likely to taint the National Police Service even more, as it struggles to clear its image from a troubled past.

While pundits have expressed confidence over the proposed drastic reforms within the service, human rights Organisations say a lot remains to be done.

The 18 cases come even before IPOA can conclude investigations of 243 killings caused by police in the last 12 months.

READ: IPOA probing 243 killings by police in twelve months

Also, being investigated are 86 cases where security agencies are being accused of inflicting serious injuries on victims.

Kenya will next year be reviewed on its human rights record when the country will submit its implementation report for the next Universal Periodic Review (UPR) review before the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

READ: Kenya on the spot over extrajudicial killings, disappearances

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The country will also undergo a review before the UN Committee against Torture, known as CAT.

United Nations Human Rights Council boss Zeid El Hussein, has called for accountability for the “scores of unlawful killings and other human rights violations reported during the 2017 Kenyan elections.”

According to IMLU statistics, 822 people died from police bullets between 2013 and June 2018.

Of these, 58 happened between January and June this year.

According to their statistics, there are 44 cases of summary executions between January and June.

Some of the challenges hampering the quest for justice, according to right groups include lack of cooperation and full investigations, lack of independent post-mortem report that are used in court to establish the cause of death in extra-judicial killing and threats and intimidation by the perpetrators to the victims.

Others include lack of strengthened witness protection mechanism, delay in compensation awards and normalization of extra-judicial killings by Kenyans.

But there is hope that some of these challenges may resolve, and expeditiously so, if a newly found working relationship between IPOA and the National Police Service blossoms.

This was agreed during a recent visit by Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to the newly sworn-in IPOA board, where among others, they agreed to resolve outstanding issues that might have strained their relationship before.

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READ: Police, IPOA agree to mend ties in pursuit for accountability

Since its inception in 2012, the authority has had a strained relationship with the police and has accused the NPS of derailing its mandate of ensuring they are professional and accountable.

“We acknowledge that there were indeed some difficulties and we have agreed that we will henceforth find ways of working well together whenever they occur,” the IG said during the October 23 visit.

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