By Executive Director of International Centre for Policy and Conflict
The Constitution gave us a roadmap on the kind of police we needed to create. So the starting point is to ask the question, have we implemented the police reforms as provided in the Constitution?
Secondly, we have the National Police Service Act of 2011. Regrettably, it has continuously been amended. So the enabling legislation has never been implemented.
So essentially we have not been able to change the character of the national police as envisaged under the new constitution. So what difference will it make with the kind of reforms they are undertaking now?
We are dealing with the form of the police not the structural problem. The problem is the software. For instance, police were killing people under the old Constitution as they do now under the new law.
Were the reforms Kenyans wanted about police uniforms? Even if you buy the most expensive uniform and you don’t change the software of the police, will that police change?
If you go to Chapter 14 of the 2010 Constitution, it provides for an independent police that is not controlled by the executive. However, the police as we knew it is under the control of the political executive and the civil service has not changed.
Under the new order, the police were supposed to be impartial in their handling of public affairs. But we still have a regime policing force. Its about protecting the regime in power.
The Constitution also makes it clear that Kenya was supposed to have a people-centred police service. The service was supposed to respect the rights and freedoms of citizens. Today, police are being accused every day of extra-judicial killings. Police are meting violence on Kenyans on a daily basis.
These are the provisions of the Constitution that ought to come first in police reforms. Have they implemented that? No. So the kind of reforms we are doing are superficial. Without these changes, even if you were to come with whatever structure of the police it will not make a difference.
Lastly, Kenyans were not stupid to create the National Police Service Commission in the Constitution. But that Commission has been completely cannibalised and its mandate shredded.