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November 17, 2018

EXPERT COMMENT: Mwai’s death in detention is unfortunate

One of the suspects in former Garissa Finance executive Idriss Mukhtar's shooting Mohamud Hussein Aden (hiding his face) is led to a court room on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. /COLLINS KWEYU
One of the suspects in former Garissa Finance executive Idriss Mukhtar's shooting Mohamud Hussein Aden (hiding his face) is led to a court room on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. /COLLINS KWEYU

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority IPOA is mandated by law to hold the police accountable to the public in the performance of their duties.

Section 6 of the IPOA Act, states that our functions are to investigate any complaints related to disciplinary or criminal offences committed by any member of the National Police Service, whether on its own motion or on receipt of a complaint.

The Authority then makes recommendations to the relevant authorities, including recommendations for prosecution, compensation, internal disciplinary action or any other appropriate relief, and shall make public the response received to these recommendations.

When a death occurs in any police detention, we investigate on our own motion or after police notification.

In the case of David Mwai who was found dead inside Parklands Police Station on August 31, IPOA has launched investigations with a view of unraveling the circumstances under which he died.

His death means there is a lot still to be done to make detention facilities in the country safe, free from hazards and to meet international standards.

International standards for detention and correctional facility demands that they have good toilets, running water, good lighting and air circulation.

It demands that detainees are provided with meals, allowed to go out for exercise and get medical attention.

IPOA's frequent and ongoing inspections of these detention facilities has seen a continuous improvement.

After inspections, IPOA teams always sits down with the officer commanding station (OCS) to discuss the weaknesses and areas of improvement and this has been made more possible with government budgetary allocations to OCSs who can now spend cash to improve their command stations without waiting police headquarters as had been the case in the past.

These inspections, other than making sure the detention facilities are well kept, have helped make sure detainees are not held beyond the legal requirement of 24 hours.

This has seen continuous improvement in stations with many being painted or repaired to make them habitable not only for officers, but detainees as well.

IPOA shall continue investigating the unfortunate death in custody at Parklands Police Station and in the end recommend remedial or correctional measures.

Lastly, IPOA assures both members of the public and the police that it has their best policing interests at heart and remains committed to the police reforms initiative.

Oketch is the Head, Communications and Outreach Department at IPOA. He spoke to the Star.

 

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