The Independent Policing Oversight Authority Saturday, December 17 slammed Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome over a shoot-to-kill order against suspected criminals.
IPOA termed the remarks illegal, unfortunate and dangerous.
Chairperson Anne Makori said President William Ruto on October 31 2022 proclaimed himself and his administration on extrajudicial deaths occurring as a result of rogue police officers.
“On his part, the Inspector General in his swearing-in speech on 11th November 2022, acknowledged that 98 percent of police officers are good while the remaining two percent needed to be rehabilitated with the support of institutions such as IPOA.”
“It is in the spirit of this pledge that IPOA continues to commit to the execution of its mandate,” she said.
She added Article 239 (5) of the Constitution of Kenya determines that all national security organs are subordinate to civilian authority.
She said the law requires police to strive for professionalism and discipline and to promote and practice transparency and accountability to the public in the performance of their functions.
“And, the Authority shall investigate any death or serious injury, including death or serious injury while in police custody, which is the result of police action or was caused by members of the Service while on duty.”
Makori said for the 10 years the IPOA has been in existence, rightfully, it has been busy, ultimately to ensure that Kenyans have confidence in the men and women in uniform – the police – to whom they entrust their lives and property on a daily basis.
IPOA has made policy recommendations that have reduced crime by embedding the police to live within communities, helping realize a functional Internal Affairs Unit, informed acquisition of police vehicles for rapid response and officer safety in operations, kitting including specialized gear to protect police officers and provision of AIEs to Station Commanders.
It has also led to contributing to psychological support for traumatized officers through the “Mwamko Mpya-Healing the Uniformed”, contributing to improved and cleaner holding facilities in police stations and, promotion of police service excellence and professionalism through running an outstanding Police Service Awards (OPSA) amongst others.
“The police have this full support from both IPOA and the public, including when they make a decision that may result to the use of lethal force.”
However, Makori said, the same supreme law that empowers the use of force, also calls, in equal measure, an account for some of its eventualities – the loss of life and serious injuries.
“Holding the service account is not fault-finding or a witch hunt but it simply seeks to answer – what happened? Why did it happen? Was it avoidable? Can we prevent it in the future? And finally, was there an ill motive? – when incidents requiring our investigations occur,” said the chair in a statement.
She was reacting to Koome’s remarks on Friday when he slammed IPOA and other human rights agencies for criticizing police work.
Koome called the authority “busybody” as both he and Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki urged officers to use their firearms to defend citizens.
But IPOA said Saturday it shall continue with its work and during an investigation consider the circumstances which, if present during the incident under investigation, impede the effectiveness of policing.
It shall also consider unlawful action if any, taken by the complainant, the victim or any other person present during the incident under investigation.
“These provisions, demanded of IPOA investigators, have landed some of our police officers in conflict with the law,” added Makori.
It is with confidence that the IPOA can report that many of our police officers have acted within the confines of the law and the circumstances for the use of force and firearms are well spelled out in the legislation, she added.
Out of the more than 20,000 complaints that the IPOA has received against the NPS, less than 500 have been forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions with the recommendation to charge.
Further, some investigations, have also found that officers used lethal force justifiably.
“In all, the Authority wishes to remind police officers where criminal culpability has been established, that is after investigations, it is individuals who have been called to account not the service, not a unit and it is expected that there will be compliance with the Sixth Schedule, Part C on specific responsibilities of superior officers from issuing unlawful orders.”
Makori said IPOA reiterates its respect for the Constitutional mandate and role of all agencies in the justice system and will not be drawn to comment on matters in Court as that would amount to subjudice.