August 31, 2016



International Center for Policy and Conflict(ICPC) is demanding  that National Police Service Commission(NPSC) conduct ruthless purge and cause public interest retirements  in the  National Police Service to stem out  systemic corruption, incompetence, inefficiency and  direct  police involvement in criminality especially escalating incidents of enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings of innocent Kenyans. NPSC must take serious practical steps, not talk, to enforce zero tolerance to  police corruption and wrongdoing. The Commission  has to exercise its  enormous constitutional powers and mandate to  be ruthless in conducting massive purge  in the police service.

ICPC  notes that police undercover operations are a vital part of police work of protecting the public. But it needs very detailed supervision and accountability. Undercover police operations need constant reassessment to ensure that what is being done is justified and in accordance with rule of law. For obvious reasons, members of the public cannot know the details of the police’s undercover operations, but they  need to have the assurance that this work is conducted properly, in accordance with a legal procedure that ensures that ethical and human rights lines are respected and that  stringent  accountability measures are put in place  for managing and  scrutinizing a the deployment and operations  of undercover officers.

Widespread corruption and criminality  in the Kenya  Police Force, with tacit endorsement of the political system, is fueling abuses against ordinary Kenya  citizens and severely undermining the rule of law.  The appalling corruption  and money laundering  revelations coming from ongoing police vetting exercise  manifestly  shows how institutionalized extortion,  profound lack of political will to reform the force and impunity combine to make police corruption  and criminality a deeply embedded problem.  The vetting  clearly indicates  police officers enforce a perverse system of "returns," in which rank-and-file officers are compelled to pay up the chain of command a share of the money they extort from the public, thereby institutionalizing and driving extortion-related abuses. The  vetting process  also shows how Parliament and government departments charged with police oversight, discipline, and reform have failed to root out systemic corruption and rot in police service. Further the vetting exercise confirms that public complaint mechanisms, internal police controls and civilian oversight remain  seriously weak and largely ineffective.

Good policing is the bedrock for the rule of law and public safety. It creates the right security and legal order that facilitates and secures economic development, trade and prosperity of the people.  Only a thoroughgoing purging, public interest retirements and overhaul of the entire police service would  restore trust and credibility of an institution tarnished for years. Purging would see elimination of all forms of corruption and wrongdoing and ensure police officers  conduct their duties with greater professionalism and guarding against citizens’ human rights violation. Ruthless purging would  go a far way in not only removing the negative image that has clouded the force but will rebuild public confidence; thereby allowing for enhanced police-civilian relationships as  public trust in the police has a hit rock bottom.

 Transforming the  Kenya National Police into an effective, efficient, accountable and reliable service is fundamental and urgent.  However, it is unlikely that the current cleansing process alone will achieve this goal. This is the moment for NPSC with support of Interior Ministry and Parliament worked hard to clean up the police, so that Kenyans  can have the police they  deserve. The NPSC  must banish any act of corruption and wrongdoing  that stains and erodes  police. The involvement of any official of law enforcement agencies in any kind of criminal activity needs to be checked thoroughly and with an iron hand.  Further there  should be tough mechanism to monitor activities of the law enforcers to minimize their involvement in crimes. The police have to work closely with the communities and therefore  building trust and confidence is an important aspect of all types of crime fighting.

While there have been numerous programs in recent years to professionalize the police and ongoing  vetting of  officers for personal integrity and  enthusiasm for the idea of civilian oversight, substantive changes in the policing, professionalism and accountability are far apart.  Yet  police reform is a key part of improving the  country’s security situation for economic progress. Cleaning up corruption and criminal activity inside the National Police and establishing effective internal control mechanisms to deter future problems is an absolutely essential task because it is  critical to establish a credible, trustworthy, and accountable police service; to prevent police wrongdoing, abuse and human rights violations; and to achieve meaningful citizen security and guaranteeing the rule of law. Kenya needs a more fundamental police  reform than the one currently being done. The police need to be both professionalized and subject to effective  oversight by civil and legislative bodies.

The main obstacles to better law enforcement is the tendency of Kenya  politicians and civil service bureaucrats  to view police forces as primarily a means of protecting their political and economic  interests. Politicians  do not want independent, professional and impartial police. They want a police force they can control. Further the  problem is the institutional and  quality of policing involved.  The police have more equipment, vehicles, and technology now but service delivery is very poor, compromised and unprofessional.


Ndung’u Wainaina


Executive Director
International Center for Policy and Conflict