Over the last nine years, several legal and institutional reforms have sought to transform the National Police Service into an accountable, professional and a human rights compliant institution in line with our constitutional aspiration. As the leadership of the National Police Service transitions from Joseph Boinnet to Hillary Mutyambai, it is an opportunity to take a moment to reflect on the progress made and the challenges being faced by the National Police Service.
This report focuses on six issues of public interest. They are crime prevention and response, human rights compliance, integrity and police corruption, independence of the Office of the Inspector General, management of police welfare, community policing and public partnerships.
Despite investment of billions of shillings into legal and institutional reforms, police accountability especially in the areas of bribery and extortion, public order management and human rights violations have largely remained unrealized. During the 2017 General Elections, the police repeatedly used excessive force to manage public dissatisfaction with the management of the electoral processes. The Police Reforms Working Group are also deeply concerned by the ongoing intimidation and criminalization of human rights defenders seeking justice. In recent contrast to statements by the Interior Cabinet Secretary, Director of Public Prosecutions and the Director of Criminal Investigations, the previous Inspector General often issued public denials and was non-committal on eliminating human rights abuses by his officers.
The opportunity of utilising the three new oversight agencies to increase professionalism was largely missed. Over the last four years, the Police Service has been regularly criticised by their lack of full cooperation with IPOA investigations and DPP prosecutions.
The former Inspector General should be commended for issuing the guidelines on Community Policing. The incoming Office of the Inspector General must now accelerate their operationalisation. A key resource now available to his or her office will be the Community Social Justice Centres and human rights organisations. These civic organisations have become significant resources on security issues, especially in low income areas that face unique security challenges.
The Inspector General of Police and the National Police Service have yet to exert their independence from the Executive as constitutionally required. Despite efforts to increase salaries, benefits and the welfare of police officers, police welfare remains a major concern and must be a focus of the incoming Inspector General and the Interior Ministry.
The Police Reforms Working Group offers this report to assist the incoming Inspector General and oversight agencies to further deepen the radical reforms needed. Greater leadership by the in-coming Inspector General on these issues will strength police effectiveness, professionalism and compliance with human rights and fundamental freedoms. We extend our hand to the incoming Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hillary Mutyambai, to address the six public interest issues contained in this report. We also extend our hand to the relevant duty bearers such as the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, The Attorney General, Kenya Law Reforms Commission and the National Police Service Commission.