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BBI: Mixed reactions to proposals on changes in police

By Kamore Maina | October 25th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

National Police Service Commission Chairperson Eliud Kinuthia (left) alongside Commissioner Lilian Kiamba during a press conference in Nairobi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proposal to change the architecture of the police has generated mixed reactions within the top echelons of the service and civil society groups.

A section of civil society is opposed to proposed changes, claiming the independence of the Inspector General and the police service would be threatened.

A section of top police officers are also opposed to the changes and are wary of what this could mean to their jobs should the proposals be effected.

Independent Medico Legal Unit (Imlu) boss Peter Kiama said some of the recommendations in the BBI will weaken policing and remove accountability of the police.

Mr Kiama argues that the BBI proposal to abolish the National Police Service Commission would compromise the independence of the police.

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BBI seeks to repeal Article 246 (National Police Service Commission) and replace it with a new Article establishing the Kenya Police Council that shall be responsible for overall policy coordination of the National Police Service.

He argues the report should instead have focused on giving the Inspector General and the police service independence by allocating more cash and giving the police an independent principal secretary.

“When you make the PS Interior to be the accounting officer of the police, you are basically compromising the office of the IG who will have to take orders from a different person,“ Kiama said.

Amnesty International Executive Director Irungu Houghton said his organisation was yet to take a position on BBI recommendations.

“We will need to evaluate if these proposals safeguard the independence of the office of the IG and also human rights," said Houghton.

He said Amnesty International will take a position on the report after holding a stakeholders' meeting that will include other civil society groups scheduled for Tuesday in Nairobi.

The BBI report has made recommendations which, if passed, will change the architecture of the police service.

It proposes amendment of key sections of the law that touch on the police, which will see the complete merger of Kenya Police and the administration police.

Proper control

The BBI proposes the amendment of Article 243 of the Constitution to merge the two services and integrate them into the National Police Service for proper operation and control.

Former Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo supported the BBI proposals changing the police structure.

Mr Kimaiyo said the proposal to scrap off the National Police Service Commission has given the police an opportunity to be in charge of their own affairs.

“We learnt from our own mistakes. There should never be another centre of power other than the IG,“ Kimaiyo said.

The Bill further proposes amendments of Chapter 14 of the Constitution on National Security to include the merged constituent units of the National Police Service and provide clarity on the unity of command in the service.

Clause 59 of the Bill calls for the amendment of Article 240 (Establishment of the National Security Council) to include the proposed Prime Minister as a member of the National Security Council.

On Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the report calls for strengthening of its financial and accounting investigation capabilities and linking it with and the office of Director of Public Prosecutions.

Building Bridges Initiative Police Reforms
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