26 June 2014

Kenya: Police Blamed for Most Gun-Related Deaths in Kenya

Photo: Capital FM
Kenya police blamed for the most gun-related deaths in the country (file photo).

Nairobi — A new report by rights group Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU) indicates that police are responsible over 1,000 gun-related deaths in the last five years, compared to 260 deaths that were caused by armed robbers.

The report shows that the majority of deaths involving guns occur within urban centres with Nairobi recording over a 1,000 cases and Mombasa 106 cases.

According to the report, "Crime and gun violence is fueled by urbanisation and economic disparities."

"A persistent issue the country has discussed about - police welfare - may be fuelling cases of rogue police officers who commit crime for survival," it reads.

Increase of fire arms in the wrong hands is also attributed to many deaths.

Politicians are also accused of financing criminal gangs mostly during elections whom they also dump as soon as they achieve their interests.

Police are also accused of being sympathetic to some criminal gangs, a point that police spokeswoman Zipporah Mboroki agrees with saying "those found are arrested and prosecuted before the court of law."

Presenting the report, IMLU lead consultant Dr Eric Thuo said lack of proper records interferes with delivery of justice for the victims.

He said that there should be an assessment of the current death investigation system to allow a professional and independent process through enactment of the Coroner's Bill.

"The Coroner's Bill will allow for death investigations... will allow all deaths to be under a professional arm. Our Coroner's Bill is basically a hybrid between medical examiners system and the usual coroner system," he pointed out.

"In other systems, the coroner is usually a judicial officer but in our system we are setting up a medical examiner. This means that when someone dies, the police don't move the body until the medical examiner comes in, looks at the scene, at the body, interviews the witnesses and performs the entire autopsy."

"The examiner will then compile the report that will go to the Inspector General, Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General."

He said the Bill if passed will, "remove that investigation from the control of police because if you are involved in homicide you may not as well be held responsible to investigate the case."

"It will professionalise and give critical information regarding violent deaths and investigation of violence and natural death."

Thuo recommends that there should also be a creation of safe neighborhood programs through monitoring of gun availability, place and time guns are used, and youth empowerment through education.

"The Government should redesign the prescribed police postmortem form to include critical witness statements and police reports to accompany injury findings. Also develop quality management procedures for the practice of forensic medicine to ensure comprehensive and standard reporting."

The report recommends that there is need to, "adopt evidence-based approach by encouraging research to understand behavioral, social and environmental triggers of violence."

"There should also be a digital central repository for all gun deaths (and violent deaths) to allow surveillance of trends."

David Jordan, the First Secretary at the Royal Norwegian Embassy called on the government to sign the Arms Trade Treaty saying it will help in regulation of trade of weapons and, "regulate the illegal trade of the same."

"The implementation of this treaty will have effects on the ground on the proliferation of arms and the effort to be able to save lives and reduce human suffering," he affirmed.

He further noted that the ongoing police reforms in the country if fully implemented will change the current situation.

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