30 May 2013

Kenya: Concerns Mount of Squabbles in Police Service

Nairobi — The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has expressed concern over a plan to amend the National Police Service Act in an attempt to resolve the power wrangles between the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) and the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.

Similar amendments have also been proposed on the National Police Service Commission Act.

KNCHR Acting Chairperson Anne Munyiva said amending the Act would undermine police reforms envisaged by the Constitution as well as the gains achieved so far.

She argued that the proposed amendments interfered with the independence of the NPSC and required an amendment of the Constitution because independent constitutional offices are protected by the supreme law. Among the amendments is one that weakens the role of the NPSC in appointing and instituting disciplinary functions within the police force transferring it to the Inspector General.

"We are aware that amendments have been proposed and we are aware that the document is in place. We do not know how this happened but we do know that it makes reference to the Cabinet Secretary responsible for matters of the service," she explained.

KNCHR Chief Executive Officer Patricia Nyaundi also said that the amendments would delete certain clauses in the Act that would further hamper the control the NPSC has on police business and appointments.

Nyaundi took issue with the amendments saying the law should not be watered down to resolve power disputes between Kimaiyo and the Johnstone Kavuludi-led NPSC.

"As you seek to draw back on some of these gains, the biggest losers will be the police officers themselves. And you cannot move to amend the law so as to deal with people who want more space to do their work," she argued.

Interestingly, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) said it had not received such amendments. CIC Vice Chairperson Elizabeth Muli told journalists on Wednesday that the NPSC was independent and its functions could not be taken away unless the Constitution was amended.

She said that the only information the CIC had on the matter had been received from media reports. However documents seen by Capital FM News in March show that the CIC was part of the plot to undermine the structure of the NPSC so as to give the Inspector General more power and control over the force.

The documents were signed by Muli.

"CIC notes the urgency required in addressing the possible overlaps and ambiguities in the aforementioned Acts that may undermine the implementation of Articles 238, 245 and 246 of the Constitution," read part of the letter signed by Muli and dated March 12.

"It is our proposal that the amendments to those Acts be prioritised and tabled in Parliament as soon as possible," Muli said in the letter.

The letter is addressed to Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo, Attorney General Githu Muigai, chairperson of the Kenya Law Reform Commission, Inspector General Kimaiyo, his deputies Grace Kaindi and Samuel Arachi and the chairman of the NPSC Kavuludi.

KNCHR added that there was a spirited fight to put off the looming vetting exercise of police officers including County Commanders.

Kavuludi and his team had already announced vacancies in the Command structure of the 47 Counties and have received over 300 applications.

Kimaiyo is also alleged to have asked the sitting Commanders not to apply for any of those positions.

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