Kenyan Police ‘Forces of Impunity’ – Where are the Law Enforcement Agencies?

Kenyan Police ‘Forces of Impunity’ – Where are the Law Enforcement Agencies?

The Kenya police are once again on the spot over brutality and excessive force meted on Jomo Kenyatta University students on Monday.

Ian Duncan on Monday shared online a video of Allan Omondi, a 4th Year Food Science and Technology student at the university being clobbered by the law enforcers ‘to death’.

The students were protesting over rising insecurity around their environs before the officers from Juja and Makongeni Police stations descended on them.

Kenyan Police officers enjoy wide powers in the course of maintaining law and order, but in Kenya, this often means acting with impunity.

Hillary Mutyambai, Inspector General National police acknowledges this, “Officers have also been trained on the need to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and that, use of force must be legal and of necessity to the needs of justice,  it must be applied to the extent that it remains proportionate to the gravity of the offense and with a full accountability. Every police officer is guided by the foregoing principles and will take individual responsibility in case of any violation. He said when he ordered an investigation into police brutality meted on unarmed students.

Amnesty Kenya condemned the brutality and said, “Violent Policing in Kenya betrays every officer’s oath of service and must be condemned.”

Amnesty noted that in recent years, similar incidences of excessive use of force have been documented in Moi University, Maseno University, University of Nairobi and Meru University where the student leader was fatally shot in February 2018.

“Violent policing during public demonstrations must stop. It is impossible for the Republic to distinguish hooligans both in and out of police uniforms. Officers who break their code of office must be held individually guilty of misconduct, sanctioned and made to compensate victims,” Irungu Houghton, Amnesty Internation Kenya executive director says.

Article 19 Eastern Africa monitored media reports of protests in Kenya between January 2018 and Jul 2019. In their report, they identified 152 protests. “While the vast majority of these occurred without interference by the authorities or third parties, in approximately 20% of cases of the cases the police responded to protests in a manner that was not in line with international human rights obligations. Frequently using possibly excessive force that resulted in deaths and injury.”

In the report, security officials used force in 31 cases including 18 peaceful protests. During the period, at least 21 protesters and or/bystanders were injured and seven killed between January 2018 and July 2019.

Besides, the use of force by police is clearly outlined in the National Police Standing Orders, law enforcement agencies in the country have regrettably recorded next to zero returns in combating criminal activities while upholding human rights.

Article 19 of the Constitution of Kenya proclaims and entrenches the Bill of Rights as an integral part of Kenya’s democratic state and as the framework for social economic and cultural policies. 

Article 19 of the Constitution further stipulates that the purpose of recognizing and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is to preserve the dignity of individuals and communities and promote social justice and the realization of the potential of all human beings in Kenya. 

Article 19 goes deeper to provide that the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights (a) belong to each individual and are not granted by the state (b) do not exclude other rights and fundamental freedoms not in the Bill of Rights but recognized or conferred by law so long as they are not inconsistent with the Bill of Rights and (c) are subject only the limitations set out in the Bill of Rights itself. 

Article 21 expresses that it is the fundamental duty of the state and every state organ to observe, respect, protect, promote, and fulfill the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights. 

The right to life is at the core of all the fundamental rights under the Bill of Rights.  Human dignity, freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of the media are all sacred rights and freedoms that are the cornerstones of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. 

These rights and fundamental freedoms under the Bill of Rights are under siege, being desecrated across the country without the state and state organs charged with the duty to observe, respect, protect and fulfill those rights, freedoms discharging their Constitutional mandate to do so. 

The law enforcement agencies, the Kenya Police, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, the National Intelligence Service, and the Director of Public Prosecutions are charged with investigating detecting crime, apprehending criminals and prosecuting them in our courts.  

Those duties are not being efficiently, diligently, competently, expeditiously being executed when the same agencies turn out to be the oppressor. They are becoming the forces of criminal impunity terrorizing citizens.