The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) welcomes the decision by Kenya government to establish a special Police Reform Task Force yesterday to spearhead the much long waited and needed police transformation.
The appointment is a significant step towards bringing about change in police force. Kenya has had police force accused of repression, corruption, Human rights violations and state policing whereas Kenyans want an accountable force that respects human dignity and uphold the rule of law.
The government has for long defined police reform as a priority but has lacked a comprehensive structural and ideological concept of overhauling police that includes legal reforms, administrative reforms and the resolution of problem issues like respect for the rule of law and human rights, corruption, torture, detention and accountability.
We expect that the Task Force final report proposals i.e. policy and legal framework, would contain a new conceptual vision and concrete time bound program for broad police reform that seeks to fundamentally democratize policing and reorient the mission of the police from protecting the state to protecting the people and their rights.
On the December 17, 2008 both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister signed an agreement in the first step toward implementing the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence, commonly known as the Waki Commission. One key weakness of the agreement, however, is its treatment of police reform.
The agreement appears to overlook the Waki recommendation to integrate the Administration Police into the Kenya Police Service. We hope that the Task Force would adhere to the recommendations of the report while carrying out its work.
Given that many police officers in the Administration Police are not law enforcement professionals, and that the Administration Police is perceived to be highly politicized and close to the presidency, ICPC urges the government to create a combined police service that operates under the single command of the Commissioner of Police and is free from executive influence with sole purpose of maintaining law and order. An independent and effective Criminal Investigation Directorate should be established to handle investigations and prevention of the crimes.
We also call on the government to set a specific timeline to achieve these reforms as a critical step in restoring public confidence in the security sector.