Tuesday, April 3, 2012

UK: Delay in Kenya Police reforms a concern

Internal Security minister George Saitoti (right), United Kingdom High Commission to Kenya Peter Tibber (centre) and Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere (left) during the handing over of vehicles to the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (APTU) from Britain at Vigilance House, Nairobi, April 3, 2012. Dr Tibber said the UK was concerned over the slow process to implement police reforms ion Kenya. STEPHEN MUDIARI

Internal Security minister George Saitoti (right), United Kingdom High Commission to Kenya Peter Tibber (centre) and Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere (left) during the handing over of vehicles to the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (APTU) from Britain at Vigilance House, Nairobi, April 3, 2012. Dr Tibber said the UK was concerned over the slow process to implement police reforms ion Kenya. STEPHEN MUDIARI 

By FRED MUKINDA fmukinda@ke.nationmedia.com

Britain is concerned that the stalled process to create the National Police Service Commission could jeopardise police reforms in Kenya.

United Kingdom High Commission to Kenya Peter Tibber Tuesday urged President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to agree on membership to the constitutional body.

Mr Odinga said he was not consulted after the President appointed Amina Masoud as chairperson and five commissioners and sent their names to Parliament for approval last month.

“We urge the President and Prime Minister to agree on the nominations. We are concerned that this process keeps slipping. NPSC will help the police improve the perception of fairness and standards within police ranks, raising morale in the process.

"The Commission will also be responsible for putting the new policing structures in place, including the new position of Inspector-General. Urgent completion of that process is therefore critical,” said Dr Tibber at Vigilance House, the police headquarters.

Internal Security minister George Saitoti, who was at the same forum, described the reforms as a complex matter and promised they would be realised.

“I know there has been a slight delay on this matter but I want to assure our friends (development partners) who have been helping us with the implementation of police reforms that this will indeed not take a very long time,” he said.

The UK donated six vehicles to the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, the elite police team tasked to lead the war against terror in Kenya.

Once in place, the NPSC shall vet senior police officers and send home whoever it finds unfit for law enforcement, including corrupt ones as well as those who were promoted irregularly.

At the same function, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo said the government hoped to attain full reforms in four years and an Inspector General, the overall police boss, would be appointed soon.

The UK envoy further said a reformed police  would be well placed to maintain peace during and after the general elections.

“The security authorities will also play an important role in the forthcoming elections. No one, especially I am sure the police, wants a repeat of the 2008 violence.

"The Waki Commission Report highlighted the security deficiencies and what needs to be done. The police have a role to play in ensuring improved planning and implementation of public order. We stand ready to assist them,” said Dr Tibber.

The Commission is also expected to implement a 2009 report by Justice Ransley taskforce, which was adopted by Kenya as the blueprint for police reforms.

“We endorse the Police Reform Task Force report which called for increased investment in security, including in the salaries, terms and conditions of security personnel.  We recognise that the Government of Kenya has raised police salaries. We encourage further investment," said the envoy.

The NPSC will also hire, fire, deploy, discipline and transfer police officers.

Parliament is required to within 21 days, consider the names forwarded by the President, having consulted the Prime, with the mandate to either approve or reject them.

Signs of a stalemate began after a panel that interviewed candidates for the NPSC jobs was split on the names to be proposed to the principals.

The principals were required to pick the chairperson among Johnstone Kavuludi, a former civil servant, Murshid Mohamed and Ms Masoud.

Representing the National Gender and Equality Commission at the panel, Lydia Gachoya, said the names were not agreed by consensus, claiming that Jean Njeri, a lawyer, had qualified but was sidelined.

Prof Saitoti said police reforms would also ensure that the perennial housing problem faced by officers is addressed.

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