With the recent spate of shootings of “suspects” by the police, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto should be thanking their God that the Kenya Police are not involved in their cases at The Hague.
Over the last four months, at least 100 people have been shot dead by the police, each time the police claiming the dead were either caught in the act committing crimes, they were known suspects, or they tried to escape.
If this was the international standard for crime prevention and justice, Kenyatta and Ruto would have been shot by now for they are not only suspects, their charges of crimes against humanity have been confirmed by independent judges.
But then again, these suspected criminals are ordinary Kenyans rather than rich, powerful and important men, continuing a pattern of “crime-busting” in Kenya that begun during colonial times. No matter that we got independence in 1963; no matter that we have a spanking new Constitution that supposedly limits and controls the police, nothing much has changed for ordinary people suspected of violent crimes in Kenya.
I am not suggesting that the people shot are not criminals. Maybe they are. But if Kenyatta and Ruto are to be taken as innocent until proven guilty, then every Kenyan too should be innocent till proven guilty. Yes, including these alleged criminals. That constitutional protection does not only apply to those who are powerful, wealthy, or important. If it does, then we are the “banana republic” state so well satirised in Animal Farm.
What is worrying is that it appears that many of these shootings are plainly executions. For instance, there were five alleged gangsters shot dead near KARI just this week.
Yes, the Constitution allows for police to use firearms in certain situations including protecting people from deadly danger, and in self-defence. But killing 100 suspects in about 100 days can’t be self-defence, whichever way you cut it!
And even though a significant portion of the country supports these killings, especially in the middle class, it does not make them right. Yet many of those supporting these shootings are the first to shout that Kenyatta and Ruto are innocent until proven guilty.
Why the double standard for ordinary suspects?
The police have a duty to prevent crime and ensure security. This is probably the most important role the state has in any country. And it is a difficult, and often dangerous, responsibility.
But it must be done within the law, or we sink into a police state that celebrates impunity. And it begins to cause intimidation across society, whether law-abiding or not.
Of course, dead men tell no tales and the easiest way to destroy the evidence of the link between criminals and certain police officers is to kill the thugs. Now we will never know who has been protecting the criminals, who shares their loot, and who sends them on criminal errands.
Now if we do want the police to be to be investigator, judge, jury and executioner, then we better and officially abolish the Judiciary.
That will save taxpayers lots of money especially when the Judiciary is on the same wasteful spending spree as our Parliament and Executive, what with helicopters and the Sh300 million palace for the Chief Justice.
It is ironic that this shoot-to-kill strategy has been sanctioned, ostensibly to reduce crime and insecurity, by a regime headed by people suspected of the most heinous crimes imaginable. Is this a way to cleanse themselves? Make us forget their alleged crimes?