Experts criticise proposed amendments to police laws
BY FRED MUKINDA
Legal experts are urging caution on the impending changes in law that seek to give the President immense powers over appointment and removal from office of security chiefs.
The changes target the National Police Service and Independent Policing Oversight Authority Acts, but also seek to amend 33 Acts of Parliament.
Most radical is to take away the independence of IPOA by stripping its chairman and board members of security of tenure, meaning the President can send them home at will without involving a tribunal to look into their conduct.
On the Police Service, the changes target the heads of Kenya Police and Administration Police, who hold the rank of Deputy Inspector-General, as well as the Director of Criminal Investigations, and if Parliament upholds the amendments, the President will directly appoint or remove them from office.
On removal of police chiefs, the new provision says: “The President may remove, retire or redeploy a Deputy Inspector-General at any time before the Deputy-Inspector General attains the age of retirement.”
On the head of investigations, it says: “The President may at any time remove, retire or redeploy a Director of Criminal Investigations at any time before the Director of Criminal Investigations attains the age of retirement.”
On the civilian policing oversight body it says: “The Bill seeks to amend the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act to empower the President to remove the chairperson or a member of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority if the President deems it necessary, without the procedure of receiving a recommendation from a tribunal before removing a member of the Authority.”
But Law Society of Kenya Chief Executive Officer Apollo Mboya has vowed to fight attempts to repeal the provisions.
“We have to ask ourselves the reason why. The major reason is IPOA has been doing a tremendous job in a very difficult situation because we have a police service that has not realised we have a new Constitution,” he said. IPOA was formed in 2012 to receive and investigate complaints from the public against police officers. In the past, complaints against the police were investigated internally and errant officers often walked away scot-free.