Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i has reiterated the need for collective responsibility in improving the relationship between the police and the public.
Speaking during a meeting that brought together law enforcers and civil society groups at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete, that sought to chart the way forward against the backdrop of claims about police excesses, Dr. Matiang’i said Police officers who violate citizens’ rights will take individual responsibility and ultimately be subjected to the law.
He rebuked the conduct of a handful of uncultured officers but took exception to painting the entire Service with the same brush.
Dr. Fred Matiang’i is, however, calling civil society groups, human rights activists and members of the public to deploy an even-handed approach to reviewing the performance of the National Police Service uniformed personnel.
“We have challenges in our law enforcement, and we must all rise and start dealing with them collectively instead of creating a stigma around the police. We invite our colleagues from civil society organizations to join us in improving the civil-police relations. Help the public appreciate the sacrifices made by our officers.” Said CS Matiang’i.
The Cabinet Secretary noted that while the police bear the burden of maintaining national security, their sacrifices are often underappreciated and most incidents in which officers are killed or assaulted go unreported.
He was also critical of a number of unsubstantiated claims about the misconduct of law enforcement officers, adding that others are often blown out of proportion without evidence to convincingly support the veracity of the accusations.
He said: “We won’t run away from taking responsibility, but we will continue investigating the reports submitted by all our stakeholders and ultimately go the direction facts will take us.”
Referencing the recent claims about the use of excessive and unwarranted force on unarmed civilians, the CS stated that police violence remains a global challenge, adding that all cases lodged against errant officers will be taken to their logical conclusions to ensure justice is delivered to the victims.
According to the Inspector General of Police, Hillary Mutyambai, the Service, through the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) continues taking disciplinary actions against officers found violating law enforcement policies even before forwarding them for further investigation and prosecution.
Recently, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) has been working on 171 files of claims on police violence, and 81 cases are currently in court, 23 of them involving attacks that resulted in death. DPP Noordin Haji divulged that he had formed a specialized unit to expedite the prosecution of cases related to police excesses.
The Sixth Schedule of The National Police Service Act outlines when officers are allowed to use force, which must be proportional to the objective to be achieved, the seriousness of the offence, and the resistance of the person against whom it is used.
Dr. Matiang’i vouched for the ongoing reforms within the Service as the government endeavours to temper police discretion, build stronger partnerships with civilians in law enforcement, and promote transparency, responsibility, and accountability to citizens.
The Anonymous Reporting and Information System (ARIS) was launched to allow members of the public take part in this process through various platforms, including letters, social media (Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp), USSD, SMS, toll-free line, and a mobile app.
Meanwhile Human rights organization HAKI Africa and partner Social Justice Centers have acknowledged that the Covid 19 pandemic measures including the cessation of movement in some counties in the country has contributed to human rights violations.
A recent report by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority revealed that the authority that it has received Eight-seven (87) complaints against police officers since March 27, 2020 when heightened security measures were put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 pandemic with preliminary investigations showing that fifteen (15) deaths and thirty-one (31) incidents where victims sustained injuries have directly been linked to actions of police officers during the curfew enforcement.