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January 21, 2019

Brilliant precedent on police compensation

A handcuffed man pleads with police. /FILE
A handcuffed man pleads with police. /FILE

Various cases of police brutality have been in the news recently. In Ruaraka, a police inspector killed a miraa trader with an iron bar and then tried to pin the crime on the inmates of the police cells. In Lamu, a boy is hospitalised after stealing a duck.

We often feel powerless to do anything about police brutality.

On Tuesday the High Court ordered six police officers to pay 19 complainants and a lawyer Sh7.8 million for wrongful arrest. In December 2016 they were arrested outside a supermarket in Ongata Rongai for no clear reason. The lawyer was locked up as well when he tried to get them out.

But the interesting twist was the court ordered the six policemen to personally pay the Sh7.8 million damages, and specifically instructed that the state should not compensate the victims.

Rogue policemen often abuse their powers to extort money. It will be a game changer if they personally have to compensate citizens they have mistreated. That was a brilliant court precedent.

Quote of the day: "Racism is taught in our society, it is not automatic. It is learned behaviour."

Alex Haley

The American author died on January 10, 1992


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