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September 24, 2018

Reforms willl create accountability

Police in their new uniform pause for a photo with President Uhuru Kenyatta. COURTESY
Police in their new uniform pause for a photo with President Uhuru Kenyatta. COURTESY

Amnesty International, the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Independent Medico-Legal Unit and Mathare Social Justice Centre say the reforms are good.

Placing the Administration Police, regular units and other security agencies under one command structure will create public accountability and efficient deployment of personnel and resources. The reforms should ensure centralised investigation, detention and service delivery.

Article 238(2) (b) of the Constitution provides for national security to be pursued within the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The police power to use force comes with responsibilities that must not be abused.

We also welcome the promise of the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate unlawful police killings in Mombasa county.

This declaration is in line with the proposed reforms as it sends a clear message to all officers that they will be held personally responsible for brutality, abductions and extra-judicial killings. The taskforce must also review cases from all over the country with a view to prosecuting all unlawful actions by security agencies.

Kenya urgently needs radical police reforms that hold individual officers and their commanders accountable for past unlawful deaths, police brutality, torture and forced disappearances. This is just one step.

Eliminating extra-judicial executions and excessive use of force is a pre-condition for restoring public confidence, boosting police morale and creating safety for all Kenyans.

The Director of Public Prosecutions must investigate every case and prosecute those found culpable. The Attorney General must now initiate legislation to explicitly criminalise 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.

Lawful and effective policing and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are two sides of the same coin. But the new reforms must not undermine the positive approaches of most Administration Police officers to mediate between community members and provide security.

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 protections accorded by the Constitution.

The Police Reforms Working Group intends to study the new strategies and will make a substantive reaction once this is done.

This is the abridged version of a joint statement

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