We, the members of the Police Reforms Working Group- Kenya drawn from fifteen (15) governance and human rights organizations;
Committed to safeguarding the core principles entrenched in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, in relation to the National Police Service, including:
- Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and dignity;
- Highest standards of professionalism and discipline, competence and integrity;
- Preventing corruption, promoting and practicing transparency and accountability; and,
- Fostering and promoting relationships with the broader society;
Guided by the need to remain true to accountability, police welfare, public participation and quality service; do state as follows:
- That we are utterly disappointed by the lack of momentum towards realization of comprehensive police reforms as provided for by the Constitution as well as various legislations.
- We hold strong reservation towards the amendments proposed to the National Police Service Act, 2011 and the National Police Service Commission Act, 2011. Noting that these acts were enacted pursuant to articles 243 and 246 of the Constitution which clearly provide the legal foundation for democratic policing in Kenya. These laws established the National Police Service (NPS) and the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) and clearly defined their functions and responsibilities.
- That over the last 10 months, the institution of the police has become known for its squabbles that have neither legal nor institutional basis, between the Inspector-General and the Chairperson of the National Police Service Commission, instead of responding to, and addressing the increased cases of insecurity being experienced in various parts of the country.
- We are greatly concerned by attempts to deny the public an opportunity to understand and exhaustively engage the National Assembly in the development of the two bills. The publication time for the two bills has been undemocratically reduced from 14 days to 7 days. Further, on Thursday 25th June 2013, the National Assembly published a notice inviting summons to the amendments in which it gave a six day window period for public input on the bills.
As governance and human rights institutions, we wish to state that many of the proposed amendments instead of providing a new impetus to police reforms, will only serve to:
- Greatly inhibit the role of the National Police Service Commission to instill professionalism and quality service in the National Police Service;
- Prevent the Independent Policing Oversight Authority from fulfilling their mandate of investigating and acting on police abuse of power, including arbitrary use of firearms, torture and extra-judicial executions, by introducing the clause on classification of information;
- Prevent the carrying out of a non-politicized, professional and objective vetting of all police officers;
- Enable police officers to shoot to kill at will by introducing new provisions that allow them to shoot to protect property, contrary to the international standards on policing.
- Remove critical safeguards for the Inspector-General to be accountable to the public.
We therefore propose that:
- The Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government immediately withdraws the bills before Parliament to allow for broader consultation with the public in the 47 counties on the best way to provide impetus to comprehensive reforms;
- The Cabinet Secretary gives full and unconditional support to the National Police Service Commission to develop and gazette regulations guiding the implementation of the National Police Service Commission Act and the National Police Service Act 2011 in their current state; and,
- The Clerk to the National Assembly to publish the two amended bills in newspapers with nationwide circulation to enable access to Kenyans and hence increase public participation.
Lastly, we wish to reiterate the fact that the Police reform agenda remains a priority in Kenya's pursuit for peace and sustainable development. Key to the realization of this ideal is the independent and accountable policing institutions which protect and promote the rights and liberties of citizens.