KHALID: How serious is Matiang’i about ending police killings?

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i shows IG Joseph Boinnet the special ID card in Mombasa on Monday, January 21, 2019. /ANDREW KASUKU
Interior CS Fred Matiang'i shows IG Joseph Boinnet the special ID card in Mombasa on Monday, January 21, 2019. /ANDREW KASUKU

Twenty-five year- old Shee Hassan Adoli was gunned down on Tuesday this week by police officers in his home area of Barsheba, Kisauni.

This happened in broad daylight around 1pm. A report on the post-mortem performed on the same day at Coast General Hospital in Mombasa and witnessed by family and Haki Africa showed Shee was shot seven times, including in the head and chest.

Eyewitnesses reported no altercation or exchange between the deceased and the four plainclothes officers, who are said to be behind the killing. According to our preliminary investigations, all signs point towards excessive use of force and clear intent to execute. The matter is now before IPOA for investigations and subsequent follow ups.

Article 29 of the Constitution provides that “every person has the right to security of person”. This article does not only make security provision a human right but also positions security officers as human rights defenders. When it comes to security, the worst case scenario is killing. It is the worst form of human rights violation as it takes away the right to life upon which all other rights are anchored. Therefore, when that fundamental right is infringed on by the very same security personnel who are supposed to protect it, then there is cause for a major concern. A concern that must be placed before the top most security officers.

Last week, top national security officers, led by Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang’I, were in Mombasa for a meeting with civil society to talk about security. This was a follow up to a similar meeting in Nairobi late last year, in which Haki Africa was also in attendance.

At the Mombasa meeting, present besides the CS were Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and IPOA chairperson Anna Makori. Never in the history of the Coast region had top national security officials assembled in such a manner to meet with civil society organisations.

At the meeting, Haki Africa and civil society in general, communicated the need for government to welcome partnership and cooperation with the sector and communities. It was communicated to the CS that police killings have continued to bedevil the region, with many crying foul over what they term as wanton execution of suspects by police.

Civil society actors emphasised the need to respect rule of law and constitutional provisions, which provide for rights of suspects. While acknowledging that insecurity is a problem at the Coast and there is need to reign in on criminal gangs, the organisations insisted all police operations must be done within the confines of the law. Police must be told, in no uncertain terms, that the Constitution provides that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

During the same meeting, Haki Africa emphasised the need to boost IPOA’s capacity so that they can handle the backlog of cases before them. The organisation further emphasised to the CS the need to address youth and crime by not only using force but also addressing social economic issues that contribute to youth vulnerabilities.

Civil society groups asked the CS to ensure killings by police are thoroughly investigated to send a message that he will not tolerate any officer breaking the law. In response, the CS assured the organisations that his Ministry, and the Inspector General, does not support or protect any rogue officers. He went on to give examples of cases where they took swift and decisive action against officers who violated the law. The CS and the police boss assured civil society actors that they will not allow any extra legal operations by police officers.

Barely a week after the meeting, however, Mombasa is again faced with a killing in questionable circumstances involving police officers. What will the CS do? What will the IG do? These are questions lingering in the minds of Coast CSOs as well as communities. We wait, with bated breath, to see what will be done in the case of the killing of Shee Hassan Adoli.

Khalid is executive director, Haki Africa