DCI and DPP shield rogue officers, police watchdog tells talks team

DCI Headquarters on September 8, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) has raised concern about the National Police Service's (NPS) impartiality in past elections.

During a presentation before the National Dialogue Committee yesterday, Ipoa Chairperson Anne Makori disclosed they had documented instances of police partisanship during the contested 2013, 2017 and 2022 elections.

Makori said this prompted Ipoa to call for reforms. "Historically, police have been seen to be partisan during electoral cycles and as Ipoa we wanted to ensure that the delivery of services to the public is non-partisan," she said.

With the submission coming months after police officers killed scores of demonstrators and left others nursing serious injuries, Ipoa disclosed that the cases are still under investigation.

However, the authority did not disclose whether specific officers or command were held liable for the more than 60 deaths during the anti-government demos.

Commissioner Walter Ogony accused the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) of compromising evidence during forensic analysis of weapons employed in police-related incidents.

Ogony admitted that Ipoa encounters bottlenecks due to the laboratory being under the control of the DCI, which is part of the NPS under the command of the Inspector General of Police.

Prosecution bottlenecks

“They (DCI) alter the evidence. In the report of the weapon used they say as per our analysis this weapon was not in the possession of the police as at the time of the action,” he said.

“We have made a proposal that this forensic laboratory should be given autonomy away from the DCI.”

The authority also pointed the finger at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) as a major stumbling block.

Despite submitting more than 500 cases to the ODPP, many are in limbo. Witnesses often withdraw due to inaction by ODPP.

Amid dwindling public confidence resulting from cases backlog and slow progress in investigating police misconduct, Ipoa proposes granting it prosecutorial powers to expedite investigations and ensure justice.

“If the authority can be issued this prosecutorial power, the authority will be able to fast track its investigations not to necessarily punish police officers but to ensure that the process of investigation and prosecution of the cases whether to exonerate or ensure justice is done,” said Commissioner Doreen Muthaura.

Special courts

Similarly, Ipoa chairperson cited lack of goodwill from the officers who are their primary source of information on cases of police excesses.

“Our act requires the goodwill of the President, the Interior Cabinet Secretary and the leadership of the service is important in ensuring compliance and ensuring oversight for Wanjiku,” said Muthaura.

To hasten the realisation of justice for victims of police brutality, Ipoa further suggested the creation of special courts.

On the two-thirds gender rule, Makori highlighted the police service's disproportionate recruitment, which has led to a significant gender imbalance. She recommended increasing the representation of women in top leadership positions to address this disparity.

"Women are very few in both the entry-level and top-level. There used to be Grace Kaindi (former Deputy Inspector General) and once she was removed there was no other representation there," she said.

Ipoa also emphasised the need for a structured approach to multi-agency operations and a statute to regulate such operations through a clear command structure to ensure accountability and prevent abuse.

“Lack of structured approach to multi-agency can lead to serious atrocities and abuse. We request to have a statute to regulate multi-agency and have a clear command structure to ensure Accountability and avoid abuse,” said Muthaura.

Ogony expressed concerns about corruption at the Kiganjo Police College. "They (police commanders) are wondering whether the product they train for nine months in Kiganjo are actually coming out to be policemen and women or people whose relatives and friends bought their way to police training,” he said.

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