Whistle blowers to be protected

National Police Service boss has admitted that consumption of intelligence has been slow leading to runaway insecurity, including terrorism.

Inspector of Police Joseph Boinett made the admission during a national security workshop for journalists who cover security and terrorism at a Nairobi hotel yesterday.

In an address delivered on his behalf by his Chief of Staff, Mr William Thwere Okello, Mr Boinett (pictured)said the Police Service was in the process of reviewing laws on whistler blowers and witness protection to ensure that sensitive intelligence gathered from the public is not used to victimise police informers.
“In the past, intelligence has not been handled well because of a shortage of personnel. Police are overwhelmed by the amount of information they get. Sometimes, because of shortage of police officers to follow up on the intelligence, it becomes difficult to process all the leads we are given,” Mr Okello said.

The workshop comes in the wake of increased hostility by police against journalists. Two weeks ago, an Eldoret-based journalist John Kituyi, was killed in questionable circumstances. The death came barely days after Citizen TV journalist Reuben Ogada and NTV journalist Nehemiah Okwemba were brutally clobbered by the police as they covered a conflict between pastoralists and Agricultural Development Cooperation management on Kulalu-Galana Ranch in Tana River County. “The whistle blower and witness protection laws review will involve identity change to build the trust of sources who give police information,” he said.

The two-day workshop that ends today is organised by Article 19 and Centre for Democracy and Technology Africa (CDT-Africa).
While conceding that the adversarial relationship between the media and security agencies has the potential to compromise the security of the country, Mr Boinett’s representative called for sobriety on either side “because terrorism thrives on publicity.”
In his presentation, Article 19 Eastern Africa director Henry Maina, noted that rise in abuse of freedom of expression by the State through invocation of various pieces of legislation is intended to gag journalists.

Mr Maina called for robust reporting on Kenya Defence Force, National Police Service and National Intelligence Service budgets to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money.

The media freedom defender accused journalists for wilfully pandering to whims of the State, despite the latter’s encroachment on their space to the extent that it determines editorial content.

Mr Tom Kagwe of Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) pointed out that unless corruption is weeded out on the security agencies’ procurement and disposal process, the risk of the country slipping further into lawlessness remained high. Mr Kagwe accused Treasury of breeding too much bureaucracy that has encouraged corruption networks to thrive and in turn, compromise national security.

“Fifty per cent of police and military procurement are undertaken through “restricted tendering.” In some cases, the people who sit on the procurement and disposal committees are virtually the same, which is against the law,” he said.

Mr Kagwe who chairs Ipoa Finance committee said the old corruption networks in Pubic Service have persistently fought against police reforms, which if undertaken, would seal loopholes through which public money is pilfered.