13 September 2018
Amnesty International, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and Independent Medico-Legal Unit and Mathare Social Justice Centre have provisionally welcomed the announcement of far reaching reforms to increase police accountability, discipline and effectiveness by harmonizing policing operations. Placing the Administrative, Regular Police Service units and other security agencies under one command structure will go a long way to creating public accountability and the efficient deployment of personnel and resources in the public interest. The above reforms should ensure centralized investigation, detention and service delivery.
“Holding all police and security officers operating in the same area under a central chain of command accelerates their accountability to the Constitution. Article 238(2) b provides for national security to be pursued within the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The police power to use force and firearms comes with obligations and responsibilities that must not be abused,” says Peter Kiama, Executive Director, Independent Medico-Legal Unit.
The organisations also welcome the promise of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate unlawful police killings in Mombasa county.“This declaration is in line with the proposed reforms. It sends a clear message to all Police Officers and Security agents that they will be held personally responsible for acts of police brutality, abductions and extra-judicial killings in future. The taskforce must also review incidents and cases from all over the country with a view of investigating and prosecuting and investigating all unlawful actions by the Police and security agencies,” says Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton.
Kenya urgently needs radical police reforms that hold individual officers and their commanders accountable for past unlawful deaths, police brutality, torture and forced disappearances. Eliminating extra-judicial executions and excessive use of force is a pre-condition for restoring public confidence, police morale and creating safety for all Kenyans. The Director of Public Prosecutions must investigate every case and prosecute those found culpable in fair trials. The Attorney General must also now initiate legislation to explicitly criminalize extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances in line with international human rights standards.
“The reforms must also ensure that police oversight mechanisms work as provided for in the constitution. The National Police Service, Independent Police Oversight Authority, Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, National Police Service Commission, Director for Public Prosecutions, Internal Affairs Unit must be sufficiently resourced, be independent and must work with human rights organizations to ensure accountability”, says Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders.
The organisations reiterates that lawful and effective policing and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are two sides of the same coin. The new reforms must not undermine the positive approaches of most Administration Police Officers to mediate between community members and protect them. Protecting the right of police officers to life, adequate conditions and effective equipment is also critical. Police officers are a vital part of the Kenyan society. They too deserve all the rights and protection accorded by the constitution.
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