President Ruto's take on police officers using their guns on suspected criminals

President William Ruto during a joint media interview at State House, Nairobi on January 4, 2023. [Standard]

President William Ruto has said his government won’t condone extrajudicial killings.

His remarks come on the back of statements made by the Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome in December 2022, when he asked police officers not to fear using their firearms when exposed to danger.

The Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA) in its subsequent statement said the IG had made a “shoot to kill” order on suspected criminals.

President Ruto now says the IG’s remarks were taken out of context, saying he (Ruto) and Koome are on the same page on extrajudicial killings.

“Let me repeat for the avoidance of doubt, there will be no extrajudicial killings in the Government of Kenya, under my administration,” President Ruto said on Wednesday, January 4 during a joint media interview at State House, Nairobi.

“That (extrajudicial killings) is a chapter we must close. I have sat down with the command of the police, from the inspector-general, all the way downwards, and we have agreed that they will operate within the law.”

The president said police are, however, at liberty to use their firearms when their lives are in danger.

“Operating within the law includes defending themselves. They (police officers) are licensed to use firearms to deal with criminals, but to also defend themselves. If they don’t defend themselves, they won’t even be there to sort out the criminals,” said Ruto.

“The police must defend themselves. They cannot put themselves at risk and be able to continue being a police force that helps us sort out our security,” he added.

“I don’t think the Interior CS [Kithure Kindiki] or the IG of Police said they want to continue with extrajudicial killings. That is not our policy and we are all aligned as government.”

The Head of State said his administration will continue working closely with IPOA to ensure Kenyans get the deserved justice.

“We are going to respect and work with all institutions that make sure that the government works in the manner in which it is supposed to work. The IPOA has our support; we are going to fund them, we are going to support them.”

The president, however, asked IPOA to expand its investigations beyond probing police officers only.

“I have told them that they must begin to give us a programme on the investigations on how we ended up with close to 200 people being killed and dumped in rivers,” he said.

The Head of State said the Police Service faulting IPOA doesn’t mean the two institutions are at war with each other.

“Whenever you find this institution saying something contrary with another institution, that is the beauty of democracy, that is the system of checks and balances,” he said.

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