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Police tops list of most unfriendly institutions

BUSINESS
By | May 19th 2009

By Maseme Machuka and Lucianne Limo

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti yesterday launched the taskforce that will spearhead police reforms even as it emerged that the force ranks among the most unresponsive Government agencies.

The 15-member taskforce will draw from, among others, the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s report, which ruffled feathers last February by calling for an overhaul of the police force.

"Kenyan police are a law unto themselves. They kill often, with impunity," said Prof Alston when he delivered his scathing verdict.

"I have received overwhelming testimony that there exists in Kenya a systematic, widespread and well-planned strategy carried out by the police to execute individuals," he said. The police reform team will also draw from the Kriegler Report that investigated electoral fraud, and which was also blamed on the police for being partial.

Public Complaints Standing Committee Chairman James Simani (left) with Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo at the launch of the third quarterly report, yesterday. [PHOTO: TABITHA OTWORI/STANDARD]

The police received no respite from the Public Complaints Standing Committee — also known as the Office of the Ombudsman — which said the force topped public institutions that ignore queries that seek to address complaints raised against them.

Chairman James Simani said they received up to 98 complaints against the Internal Security ministry, 60 of which were against the police and 37 against the Provincial Administration.

"The biggest challenge we have encountered in handling complaints so far is that many institutions do not respond to our complaints on time," Mr Simani said.

Apart from topping the list of institutions with the highest number of complaints, the police also tops those that failed to respond to queries by the Ombudsman.

The police reform taskforce — chaired by former High Court Judge Philip Ransley — will incorporate Permanent Secretaries from Internal Security, Office of the Prime Minister, Finance, Justice and Public Service ministries.

Non-responsive

Others are Law Reform Commission chairman, Kenya Institute of Public Policy, Research and Analysis (Kippra) director and KNHCR chairperson.

Other members are Ms Sarah Ondenyo, Bishop Alfred Rotich, Mr Mohammed Ali Saleh, Mr Macharia Njeru, Mr Kyalo Mbobu and Mr Mike Harries, a former Chief Inspector for the Kenya Police Reserve. Attorney-General Amos Wako will also be part of the team.

According to the Ombudsman, Local Government, Provincial Administration, Lands, Labour and Defence ministries, State Law Office and Pensions Department were also non-responsive.

The report covers the complaints received from Government ministries and public institutions between January and March.

The committee received 1,431 complaints in the period and addressed 334.

Simani was speaking at the launch of the committee’s third quarterly report by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo at his office.

Eight per cent of the complaints received were over the Labour ministry, while the Lands ministry and Judiciary were at seven per cent.

Others, in that order, are Defence, Local Government, State Law and Finance ministries. The complaints against the Judiciary were mainly about the delay of cases.

"It should have more powers than they have now, which is vested with the President," Mutula added.

The committee is mandated to receive, register and document wananchi complaints against Government officials and institutions and present quarterly reports to the President, to whom it is answerable.

Mutula promised to present the Ombudsman Bill in Parliament soon to enable the committee have powers to carry out its duties.

Launching the 15-member committee yesterday, Prof Saitoti said the taskforce will examine policy, institutional, legislative and operational structures systems and strategies and recommend comprehensive reforms, taking cognisance of the recommendations in Agenda Four.

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