KNCHR Secretary Patricia Nyaundi presents an advisory brief to the Parliamentary Committee on National Administration and Security concerning amendments to the National Police Service Act on 31st July 2013.
Kenya as Country has travelled a long journey in Security Sector Reforms and in particular reforms within the Kenya Police Force. This journey has been speared by state and non – state actors and key among the state actors has been the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. The Commission began this journey immediately after its creation in 2003. Policing before and during this time was regime policing that was characterized by suppression of dissenting voices, high – handedness and maintaining the status quo by ensuring that the police only served the needs and the requirements of the government in power, political leaders and the influential in the Society.
The management of the police force at that time included the appointment of a Police Commissioner by the President who could then be fired at will, arbitrary promotions and transfers within the Police Force, use of police for all the wrong reason such as political assassinations, disrupting of rallies among other others. Policing then could best be described as lacking two important ingredients of an effective police; professionalism and accountability. These two lacked in the areas of; the chain of command, complaints procedures, oversight mechanism, favorable working environment and institutional values.
In this regard, the KNCHR embarked investing on accountability and professionalism to ensure that the general public benefited from the above crucial mentioned areas.
This journey was characterized with several milestones that included the setting up of a Multi – Task Force in 2004 that brought members of state and non – state actors together that produced a report though it was never published despite producing several drafts of the report thus losing a chance of reforming the police with the ideals of democratic policing. This chance was again revived just after the Post – Election Violence where the members of the Police force were accused of various acts of commission and omission and their involvement in the Violence that were captured by the Commission in the famous Waki Commission. This Waki Report then provided another avenue for re – kicking the police reforms process and a Task Force was constituted popularly known as the Ransley Task Force. The Ransley Task Force made recommendations on democratic policing that hinged on the principles of ; Equity, Equality, respect for diversity, participation, protection of individual and group rights and accommodation of dissent.
Luckily, these principles were consequently adopted in the New Constitution 2010 that created key institutions for the better functioning and management of the police and included the National Police Service Commission, the National Police Service and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority. These institutions were to apply the above principles including democratic policing and to assist in transforming the police from police force to police service.
The National Police Service Commission was therefore created with the mandate of recruiting, promoting, and transferring and taking disciplinary actions within the National Police Service. This was to ensure there is shift from the traditional mode of employing the police that had become synonymous with the office of the Police Commissioner and the Executive that was quite prone to corruption and nepotism which had been blamed as one of the contributing factors to the lack of professionalism and accountability in the force.
The National Police Service was then created under the Command of Inspector General of Police. This also brought together the Administration Police and the Kenya Police under one command to ensure that we do not have parallel security agencies taking command from different quarters that could make security apparatus prone to interference. The National Police Service which is headed by an Inspector General of Police, who was recruited through a competitive process, has security of tenure, independent command over the Police Service and thus cannot be given direction from any person or authority. This is therefore a great departure from the old order where a Police Commissioner was unilaterally appointed by the President.
However, since the coming into force of these two institutions, there has been a lot of war of words between the chair of the National Police Service Commission and the Inspector General of Police. The war of words has been centered on the issue of command of the force, promotions, transfers, recruitment and discipline within the police and who between the Inspector General and the National Police Service Commission has the powers and the mandate to carry out the same.
This war of words has eventually led to the proposed amendments to the two Acts and essentially seeks to limit the powers of the National Police Service Commission and transfer these powers to the Inspector General of Police in the name of giving him command of the National Police Service.
The transfer of these powers to the Inspector General of Police is ill – advised and is akin to reversing all the gains that have been made as far as recruitment, transfers, and promotions and disciplinary is concerned. It is important to remind Kenyans of the excesses that had been witnessed during the period when this exercise was being carried out under close supervision of the Office of the Police Commissioner. This exercise had been marred by claims of nepotism, corruption and lack of professionalism since it lacked oversight that is now being provided by the National Police Service Commission. It would beat the purpose of having a Police Service Commission that cannot carry out recruitment, promotion and transfer to its employees.
The independent Command being sought by the Inspector General has been clearly explained in article 10 of the National Police Service Act 2011 and is not about transfer, promotions, and recruitment and disciplinary actions.
In conclusion, transferring the powers to hire, fire, promote and to take disciplinary action in the police force to the office of the Inspector General of Police is a kin to killing the National Police Service Commission.