Police chiefs want contentious clause in the National Police Service Bill on firearms retained

By MOSES NJAGIH

The police top command has strongly lobbied for retention of a contentious clause in the National Police Service (Amendment) Bill, which would allow use firearms to protect property.

The contentious Section 54 of the Bill has attracted strong opposition from all stakeholders who have termed it as tantamount to giving trigger-happy members of the police service a carte blanche for extra-judicial executions.

But when they appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Security led by Tiaty MP Asman Kamama, the police commanders led by the Inspector General David Kimaiyo pleaded for the clause to be retained.

Summary execution

The strong Government team justified the inclusion of the clause that has also divided members of the committee, saying its letter did not necessarily mean that the firearms would be used for summary execution of suspects.

“The firearms would be used only in a justified circumstances. We are really pleading that this clause is not deleted,” said Kimaiyo.

The IG had the strong backing of his deputies Ms Grace Kaindi and Samuel Arachi, and the Criminal Investigation Department Director Ndegwa Muhoro.

The team argued that while the law now allows the officers to use the firearms only when their lives are threatened, the same leeway is not provided for in protection of property, including security installations.

“I request that we do not tie the hands of our police officers so much to a point where tomorrow we start blaming them for inaction. We should allow them to use firearms, even if they will be used to scare the suspects,” said Iringo.

Those who have opposed the inclusion of the clause include the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, Kenya National Human Rights Commission, Police Service Commission and the Independent Police Oversight Authority.

MPs who are opposed to the clause warned that even if the Bill is passed without the section being changed, its constitutionality would be open to challenge in court as it would be seen as offending the constitutionally enshrined right to life.

Kamama and Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, however, differed, wondering how, for example, police are supposed to deal with armed cattle rustlers.

“Let us include this clause and those who feel it is unconstitutional can move to the constitutional court,” said Otieno. At the same forum, police commanders differed with the ministry representatives over the appointments of the IG and deputies, faulting the proposal by Iringo that process be left at the whims of the President.


 

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