IPOA says complaints against police on the rise

A boda boda operator ferries a police officer in Mumias. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Complaints against police officers have been rising since the establishment of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) in 2011.

According to a document presented by Ipoa to the Senate Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC), complaints against police have increased by 83.4 per cent from 594 in 2012 to 3,583 cases in 2021.

The authority was appearing before the committee to answer questions on the conduct of police when enforcing Covid-19 regulations, an issue that has seen dozens die in the hands of police.

Senators protested failure by Inspector General of National Police Service, Hillary Mutyambai and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji to appear before the committee and instead sent representatives.

“We are dealing with issues of life. Two brothers were arrested and killed under mysterious circumstances. We can’t delay to deal with such issues,” said Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula.

“We cannot take these things lightly. We have been given this mandate by Kenyans. If people are called to appear before this House and decide to attend other important issues then I wonder how they regard this House,” said Meru Senator Mithika Linturi.

On August 1, two brothers, Benson Ndwiga, 22, and Emmanuel Ndwiga, 19,  allegedly died in the hands of police after being arrested for flouting the curfew.

Last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that at least six people died in the first ten days of the dusk to dawn curfew.

In July police arrested at least 50 activists in Nairobi and violently dispersed others who were protesting against police brutality since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.

Faced with inadequate budget allocation, witness withdrawal due to intimidation and non-cooperation by some suspect officers and their colleagues, Ipoa faces an uphill task in executing its mandate of instilling professionalism within the police service.

“Out of the 3,237 complaints, 84 per cent (2706) were from members of the public while 3.1 per cent (100) were from police officers,” reads Ipoa's annual report for the year ending June 2019.

According to Human Rights Watch, Ipoa is handling more than 2,000 cases of police killings but has successfully prosecuted 13 officers with different conduct issues.

JLAC has rescheduled the meeting with the Mutyambai, Haji and Ipoa to September 16.