The newly constituted Independent Policing Oversight Authority will beging investigations on extrajudicial killings blamed on the police.
If everything goes according to the plan, rogue police officers will face the authority, the first independent body of its kind, beginning November this year.
Those found culpable will face up to 25 years in jail if convicted of torture while those found to have subjected a person to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” will be imprisoned for a maximum of 15 years.
Previously, complaints against police officers were investigated by the police themselves and many of those accused went scot-free.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority is already receiving complaints from the public but cannot deal with the officers until competent investigators are recruited, among other logistical reasons.
“It should take us 120 days from July 1, after which we should be able to deal with the serious injury and death complaints.
“After 180 days from July 1, we shall be able to deal with all complaints and all other matters falling within our mandate,” reads part of the authority’s work plan.
But its presence is being felt, and they have written to Internal Security permanent secretary Mutea Iringo demanding transparency in the forthcoming recruitment of police officers, noting that past employment drives were marred by corruption and nepotism.
Though recruitment does not fall within its mandate, chairman Macharia Njeru said a flawed exercise would yield numerous complaints from the public.
Mr Njeru’s team was sworn into office by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on June 4.
The body’s functions include holding police accountable to the public when performing their duties, ensuring professionalism and monitoring policing standards.
The work plan states that they will be investigating cases where police officers cause “serious bodily harm, including torture, any sexual offence and an offence against a vulnerable person”.
The authority is required to have offices in all the counties. In regard to the recruitment, a role that should be undertaken by the Police Service Commission, Mr Njeru said special committees should be formed to spearhead the exercise to ensure there is transparency.
The recruitment teams should include people who are not police officers. This is so because the Police Service Commission is yet to be constituted, in spite of a Sh300 million allocation in this year’s budget.
The process of appointing commissioners to the constitutional body has stalled and, in a bid to resolve the deadlock, the authority selected Mr Njeru alongside Grace Madoka, Fatuma Saman and Tom Kagwe to “directly engage” Parliament and the Executive on the matter.
It’s the failure to constitute the PSC, the body mandated by the Constitution to recruit officers, which led the oversight authority to call for independent participants in the recruitment drives.
The Treasury allocated Sh2.5 billion to the police department to employ 3,500 new officers this year, against plans to hire 7,000. Previously senior officers took charge of recruitment drives.
In the letter to the PS, the authority said serving police officers should undergo refresher courses to improve their efficiency.
In the absence of the Police Service Commission, the police force has not been transformed to the National Police Service as envisioned in the Constitution.
The service would bring the Kenya Police, which includes the GSU and CID, under the command of an inspector-general, who would also be in charge of the Administration Police.
The process to set up the Police Service Commission was thrown into disarray in March after Prime Minister Raila Odinga said he was not consulted when President Kibaki appointed commissioners and forwarded their names to Parliament for approval. MPs rejected the list.