By Hassan Omar Hassan
If there are to be meaningful reforms of the police, then we must put in place a credible and robust National Police Service Commission (NPSC). Nothing less. The NPSC is constitutionally positioned to break the backbone of impunity in the National Police Service. It puts an end to the era of absolute and arrogant discretion and violation. It ushers in a new era of accountability.
I believe the regime inclined security apparatus are the last frontiers of occupation, limiting the full extent of our liberty and democratic horizon. Our democratic liberation therefore necessitates their reforms. Either through freewill or democratic coercion using the ‘tools’ the Constitution provides. No ‘tool’ is more critical than the NPSC in reforming the National Police Service. I am privileged to chair the Selection Panel for commissioners to the NPSC. Lydia Gachoya from the Gender Commission is the vice-chair. Other panel members are Francis Kimemia who represents the Office of the President, Caroli Omondi from the Office of the Prime Minister, Ahmednassir Abdillahi from the Judicial Service Commission, Okong’o O’mogeni from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and Festus Litiku from Association of Professional Societies in East Africa. The mandate of the panel is to nominate persons who qualify for appointment as chairperson and commissioners of the NPSC to the President.
Of the commissions and independent offices provided for under Chapter 15 of the Constitution, the NPSC easily passes as one of, if not the most powerful commission. It is instrumental in securing our fundamental rights hitherto suffocated by excessive conduct and practices of the police. Article 246(3) of the Constitution provides that "the Commission shall (a) recruit and appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the police, confirm appointments, and determine promotions and transfers within the National Police Service; (b) observing due process, exercise disciplinary control over and remove persons holding or acting in offices within the police".
Section 10 of the NPSC Act 2011 lists a further 20 functions which include "determination of appropriate remuneration and benefits for the police and staff of the commission on advice of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission; ensure the police are efficient and effective; develop policies and provide oversight over training; approve training curricula and oversee their implementation; review and make recommendations to the national Government in respect of conditions of the police, code of conduct and qualifications of officers; monitor and evaluate their performance" among a host of functions.
My own reading of these functions in the Constitution and the Act is that the NPSC runs the National Police Service. The functions of the Inspector General and the two deputies are purely operational. The recruitment for these positions is also through the NPSC.
The panel starts work next week by short-listing the applicants. We have received about 21 applications for the position of chairperson, about 15 for the two positions for retired police officers and about 180 for the three positions of commissioners. After the shortlisting, we will publish the list of the short listed candidates and invite them for public interviews. The public will be allowed to participate in this exercise and may share any useful information on the shortlisted candidates. Those shortlisted must therefore gear themselves for the attendant public scrutiny. I look forward to a robust public engagement as we commence the work of constituting the important and powerful NPSC.
—The writer is a commissioner with the KNCHR