MPs brace for duel in House over police Bill

Saturday February 15 2014

A pass out ceremony at the Kenya Police College in Kiganjo on August 24, 2013. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | FILE

A pass out ceremony at the Kenya Police College in Kiganjo on August 24, 2013. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

JOHN NGIRACHU
By JOHN NGIRACHU
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MPs are bracing for a fresh round of contest over a Bill that is seen to be transferring powers from the National Police Service Commission chairman Johnson Kavuludi to Inspector-General David Kimaiyo.

And when the National Police Service Bill went through Second Reading in the House last Wednesday, MPs allied to the executive took up a familiar stand in support of the Bill while those in the opposition criticised it.

The Bill was introduced in the House last year and was among those carried over to the second session that began last Tuesday. Before the Bill was introduced in the House, Mr Kavuludi and Mr Kimaiyo were engaged in a war of attrition with each trying to exercise authority over the other.

Its Second Reading started on Wednesday afternoon and was supposed to continue on Thursday afternoon but National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi deferred it.

The proposed law has caused a stir and, despite assertions by the National Security and Administration Committee that it has met all interested parties, complaints abound.

The Bill’s opponents say it weakens the Independent Police Oversight Authority by failing to make it mandatory for the Inspector-General to comply with its recommendations.

It also deletes a clause that protects officers who snub an unlawful command, they say, and involves the Cabinet Secretary in the recruitment of officers, contrary to modern practice.  

On December 5, 2013, the last day of the National Assembly sittings last year, Jubilee MPs took advantage of the rush to force through contentious changes to the National Police Service Commission Act.

Although the proposed law wasn’t passed, MPs already approved changes to it that give the Inspector-General the power to transfer, discipline or promote officers up to the rank of superintendent.

The Bill awaits a final vote.

PROVIDE FOR COLLABORATION

On the proposed changes to the National Police Service Act, the House Majority Leader said on Wednesday they would provide for collaboration and consultation between the Commission and the Inspector-General.

“The spirit of these amendments is not to take any power assigned by the Constitution to the commission but to make an alignment of the Act towards the Constitution,” he added.

Most of the other amendments were editorial in nature, he said.

All these, he said, had been subjected to scrutiny by the commission, the Kenya Law Reform Commission, and the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution.

He said the amendments were crucial given that terrorism has now become evident in Kenya.

But according to Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo, the Bill “amounts to changing the Constitution through the back door”.

“I have spoken and I have received phone calls from several police officers, who are saying they want a departure from the past. They want a departure where if you have issues, a commission listen to your case, not one person who is god, against the Constitution,” said Mr Midiwo.

He said the Bill was an excuse for the Executive’s failure to direct the implementation of the Constitution and command the police force to do their job better. “Nothing prevents the President from calling the IG and the NPSC chairman and directing them to work together for the good of this country,” he said.

Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja, ODM) said the Bill is a violation of the Constitution because it aims to take away NPSC’s “exclusive” powers to discipline police force.

Majority Whip Katoo ole Metito, a proponent, said among the main issues in the amendments is the separation of command to give the IG independent command of the force, with the commission exercising supervision.