Kenya: “Police reforms are vital and it would be disastrous if they were diluted at the 11th hour,” said Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa Sarah Jackson
Posted by African Press International on September 27, 2013
- BY PETER MUKABI (RADIO PRESENTER SAHARA FM KENYA)
Human rights violations will worsen if the Government persists with attempts to amend key laws that regulate the police, a watchdog has warned.
Amnesty International (AI) on Tuesday said proposed amendments by Inspector-General David Kimaiyo to the reform package, which has been approved by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku, will weaken it and eliminate safeguards that regulate the force.
“Police reforms are vital and it would be disastrous if they were diluted at the 11th hour,” said Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa Sarah Jackson.
“The police have been acting as if they are above the law for years and the Government must honour the commitments it made after the post-election violence and carry through these reforms,” she added.
The National Police Service (Amendment) Bill 2013 and National Police Service Commission (Amendment) Bill 2013, which are meant to clarify the responsibilities of the IG and National Police Service Commission, give the Inspector-General more powers.
The Bills are likely to be tabled in Parliament this week. However, Amnesty has warned this would put the powers of the police boss at greater risk of political interference.
The police boss will not be obliged to act on the recommendations of an oversight authority if the Bills pass.
The NPS Act required the police boss to act on the recommendations of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.
However, that section has been deleted in the proposed amendments. “This really is a case of one step forward, two steps back. What promised to be a badly needed shake-up is unlikely to deliver on the key goal of a professional and accountable police service,” said Mrs Jackson.
She said the amendments would affect the independence of the IG as the police boss would be appointed by the President and Parliament.
The Bills also seek to allow police to use firearms to protect property and to stop someone charged with a serious crime from escaping or stop anyone helping them to escape, a proposal which has alarmed AI.
“These additional grounds are contrary to international standards on use of force and may facilitate unlawful killings,” said Mrs Jackson.
Kenyan police have been on spotlight since the 2007/8 post-election violence despite the amendment.