20 December 2012

Kenya: Uproar Over Deletion of Gender Clause in Police Act

Nairobi — The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) on Thursday raised the red flag over a plan to amend Section 14 of the National Police Service Act by deleting the gender parity clause.

In a letter sent to the Attorney General citing the concerns, IPOA Chairman Macharia Njeru argued that the ploy was an affront to women in the force bearing in mind the fact that their place had been largely ignored.

Njeru added that the move was retrogressive as it greatly undermined the envisaged police reforms saying they would challenge the amendment in Court.

"We just learnt that there is a Motion in Parliament seeking to remove the clause on gender parity. This has come as a shock to us considering that there has been no consultation whatsoever by the Internal Security Ministry with the stakeholders," argued Njeru.

"We will join in any proceedings in Court challenging this change should it taken forward," said IPOA.

The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) together with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) had also expressed concern over the scheme.

FIDA has already indicated its intention to challenge the amendment and appointments in Court.

"It is wrong for Parliament to bring an amendment deleting the gender provision for the mere fact that they want to force or put other persons to be appointed, who are all male," claimed FIDA's Executive Director Grace Maingi.

She also took issue with the three names that were approved by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for the positions of Inspector General and two deputies noting that they were all male.

Maingi argued that the selection panel and the two principals had no excuse of locking out women from any of the positions.

Only two names, from the nine that were forwarded to the principals for consideration, were female: that of Grace Kaindi (Commandant of the Kenya Airports Police Unit) for the position of Inspector General and Judy Ndeda (Railways Police Unit) for the position of Deputy Inspector General in charge of police.

The President and Premier however picked the top candidates in each of the three categories after the two women performed dismally compared to their colleagues.

"There should be no excuse that there are no women to be appointed because women applied, they were interviewed and were found to be able to take them up," argued Maingi.

"We wanted the Constitution to speak to national values and principles including gender and now there are attempts to delete them which is unconstitutional," she said.

Njeru added that the move would jeopardise children's police rights as women were best placed in protecting them.

"They (women) are further best placed in taking the lead in ensuring children's rights in the hands of police are protected," he observed.

The letter was copied to the Internal Security PS Mutea Iringo, CIC Chairman Charles Nyachae and the Chairperson of the National Gender and Equality Commission, Winnie Lichuma.

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