- Police accused of abdicating their constitutional duty by faltering as over 110 people were being butchered in the Tana Delta.
- Experts warn that such a laid-back approach by the security forces could prove disastrous as the country heads into the historic General Election next year.
- Human right groups urged to be objective and not condemn every police operation at the expense of national security.
Barrack Muluka, a commentator on social and political issues, terms the police statement as a cynical explanation that could indeed backfire and put Iteere in trouble in future. He notes that while use of excessive force took Ali to The Hague, the abdication of a constitutional duty to save lives could equally see the current police commissioner arraigned at the International Criminal Court (ICC) or any other court of law.
“You cannot say you abdicated a legal responsibility to save lives because you don’t want to be taken to The Hague; doing nothing is in itself good enough to take you to The Hague,” Muluka states.
He says the police have absolute powers when it comes to protecting civilians and restoring security in any part of the country and cabinet approval should never stand on the way.
He notes that while the police have not used force in Tana Delta, they have equally not been conspicuous on the ground. Yet, he notes, presence of the officers in a clash-hit area would in itself be a deterrent to bloodletting and arson.
“But when the officers get to extreme situations where their own lives are in danger, they have the power to shoot, although they initially shoot not to kill but to incapacitate,” Muluka explains.
He says that with the recent police statement, it is frightening for one to think of 2013 in the light of what transpired in 2007. “In case people engage each other in violence, will the police sit back and watch waiting for someone to chair a cabinet meeting and approve their deployment?” he poses.
Prof Egara Kabaji, a lecturer at the Masinde Muliro University, says Owino’s statement was shocking since the laws that govern the police force are explicit.
“It is a statement that clearly shows that the police leadership might not know its exact mandate. You do not have to wait for a Cabinet decision to do what you are employed to do. It is sad that such a statement reflects a police force without real direction,” he states.
Kabaji argues that the police should never worry about human rights activists, but should instead strictly utilize the mandate and powers given to them when it comes to maintaining law and order.
“The police clearly know what they are supposed to do. If armed criminals attack them, it is very clear that they should shoot to kill. The police must act to defend themselves if cornered while on duty,” he says. The don further says that the police should not use the 2007 violence to justify their inertia.