IPOA faults crackdown on refugees in Eastleigh

Kenya: A police watchdog has faulted the recent crackdown on refugees and alleged illegal aliens in Eastleigh and other parts of Nairobi saying it does not among other issues observe human rights issues.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority released a report on Monday saying the Usalama Watch did not adhere to the laid down statutory requirements, rules and procedural regulations.

“IPOA monitoring teams found that the capacity level of detention facilities was rarely abided to. Most of the detainees were subjected to congested cells,” reads part of the report.

The authority wants police to carry out a post-mortem of the operation within 90 days and report back to it.

The report says whereas the operation was intended for a good cause, its implementation was problematic and wrought with many challenges.

“The operation was not conducted in compliance with the law, respect for the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Police failed to uphold the requirement of Article 244 of the Constitution which binds them to strive for professionalism and discipline and promote transparency and accountability.”

IPOA said it will take criminal and disciplinary action against those culpable of the violations.

It stated whereas the cell capacity of Kasarani is approximately 100 detainees, on April 16 there were 214 while in Pangani there were 152 instead of the required 80. The report dubbed ‘Monitoring Report on Operation Sanitisation Eastleigh” says some detainees spent their nights at the cells while standing due to limited space.

“This pointed to a lack of proper planning and coordination that would have ensured more lock up facilities were made available to ensure detainees were not subjected to such congested and inhumane conditions of standing the whole night,” reads the report.

The monitoring exercise also established that there was no proper liaison and ordination between the various units of the national police service.

 For instance, a building would be searched several times by different groups of police officers during day and night, which inconvenienced the occupants.

The report says the monitoring teams received complaints that police officers involved in the operation demanded bribes from some of those who were detained before they would get to police stations. Some officers were not in uniforms and identification documents.

The government launched the operation targeting individuals who are in the country illegally without valid documents, those who were outside the precincts of legally gazetted areas and those who had unauthenticated documents.

More than 400 people were deported and others taken back to refugee camps in the operation.

But it drew condemnation from residents who said they were being profiled, discriminated against and harassed.

It was then that IPOA launched the study in which it established there was poor record keeping which gave leeway for demanding bribes and extortion.

Chairman Macharia Njeru said they are investigating 29 extortion cases in the operation and would soon table a report on the outcomes.

“The detainees and members of the public complained of harassment, being roughed up, inappropriate touching and demand of receipt for household items such as electronics. Failure to produce them resulted to the confiscation of the items or illegal arrests or extortion,” said Njeru.

The report says the rights of the arrested persons in which it required his or her production before a court within 24 hours were violated.

In some cases, some detainees were held for up to 15 days before being brought to court, says the report.

The right to human dignity were also abused to those being held because they were detained in dirty police stations.

Police also abused the rights of the children by confining them in the same cells with adults. The detainees were held in Kasarani police station, Kasarani Stadium, Pangani police station, Buru Buru, JKIA, Industrial Area and Shauri Moyo police stations.

It blamed poor leadership in the service for the mistakes detected in the operation saying there is lack of seamless structure.

“There is need for harmonisation to include and be manifested in joint trainings, deployment including patrols, procurement, legal services, communication, sporting events and all other matters towards promoting one national police service.”