NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 23 – Victims of police brutality and other excesses are likely to get justice more quickly if a newfound working relationship between the National Police Service (NPS) and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) blossoms.
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.
But in his first visit to the IPOA offices, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet extended an olive branch to the newly sworn-in board, saying he is ready to iron out any outstanding issue that may have constrained their relationship.
Addressing journalists on Tuesday after meeting the new board members led by Chairperson Anne Makori, the Inspector General of Police said the courtesy call was meant “to reset our working relationship.”
Going forward, he committed to having a robust rapport with IPOA – sentiments shared by Makori – in ensuring the NPS is not only people-centred but accountability is deeply ingrained in the execution of its mandate.
“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.
While IPOA is the civilian body mandated to investigate police excesses, NPS has an internal body – the Internal Affairs Unit.
“The few within the police who are found in breach of the law, our internal affairs unit can on its own motion investigate that matter or request IPOA to take it up or corroborate,” he said.
The police-public relationship has been for long been strained but IG says their new partnership is likely to improve it as they ensure officers are accountable for their own actions.
The IPOA Chairperson who echoed the IG’s sentiments said they should all execute their mandates as enshrined in the constitution.
“This was a courtesy call. We did not go to the in-depth discussions of our respective work that is ongoing but we believe in continued strengthening of that working relationship going forward,” she said.
“Our commitment is to continue ensuring robust civilian oversight over policing but with the aim of building public trust and confidence.”
This relationship, she clarified will not compromise their quality of investigations.
IPOA is currently probing 243 killings caused by police all reported within the last 12 months.
Also being investigated are 86 cases where security agencies are being accused of inflicting serious injuries on victims.
When tasked over the low number of successful prosecutions, the inaugural board attributed this to poor documentation of medico-legal evidence, non-cooperation, misunderstood mandate by police and fear of victimization by both victims and witnesses by perpetrators.
Since its inception, the authority has received 10,381 complaints against authorities.
Some of the complaints are bribery, extortion, inaction, harassment, arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, assault, killings, welfare issues, degrading cells and recruitment issues among others.
According to Independent Medico-Legal Unit statistics, 822 people died from police bullets between 2013 and June 2018.
Of these, 58 happened between January and June this year – 44 cases are of summary executions.
The visit comes when NPS is struggling to redeem itself from a troubled past marred by cases of deaths caused by police and harassment.
The government is currently implementing radical reforms within the service, to ensure it gets to the internationally accepted standards.