- 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.
|Security officers transport bodies of their colleagues killed by raiders in Tana River County. [Photo: Paul Gitau/Standard]|
By Joe Kiarie
To what extent will the ghosts of the 2007-2008 post-election violence haunt Kenya? This is one of the many questions Kenyans are asking after the Police department made a disquieting statement as the country heads to general elections.
On Wednesday, Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino said the police could have easily suppressed the deadly inter-tribal clashes in Tana Delta, but employed a cautious approach awaiting Cabinet approval to use force.
Owino was categorical that they were avoiding a situation where Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere could suffer fate similar to that of his predecessor Gen Hussein Ali, who was arraigned at The Hague, charged with the use of excessive force by his juniors in the post-poll violence.
Omosa Mogambi, a professor of Criminal Justice at the United States International University, says the guarded approach by the police is baseless when lives have been lost.
Mogambi notes that the police have both constitutional and moral duty to protect Kenyans all the time.
“They are given the constitutional authority in Article 238 to deal with crime and to use all means, including reasonable force, to keep law and order in society. Section 20 of the Kenya Police Service Act 2011 clearly outlines the core functions of police in relation to the security of citizens, which must be followed to the letter,” he argues.
The don adds that the police should be charged with failing to prevent atrocities against unarmed civilians.
“Sitting on the fence in the pretext of fear of being prosecuted for human right abuses is failing in the public trust the police have from the people. This is a very dangerous precedent because security agents are going to stand aloof and wait for citizens to sort out their differences without regard to the law,” states Mogambi.
He advises the state to be vigilant to ensure the attitude the police force has was avoided before the official campaigns for the general elections.