Police must be held liable for killings

Friday, September 15th, 2023 00:20 | By
Police must be held liable for killings
Police brutality. Photo/Courtesy

The failure of authorities and police oversight bodies to address accountability for the abuses especially during the anti-government protests by the police risks emboldening them to continue their misconduct in future.

Defending the police even when they are wrong only gives them a false sense of immunity, encourage them to violate human rights, and also results in lack of trust in the service.

Political interference in police work, investigative failures by the oversight authority, a lack of police cooperation in investigating abuses by the law enforcers have hampered efforts towards accountability. In what has now become a disturbing pattern, rather than investigating such claims and examining the causes, senior government officials have been busy defending the rogue officers.

When he took over office, President William Ruto committed to ending extra-judicial executions, torture, and enforced disappearances.

Among the first actions his administration took was to disband the Special Services Unit of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations .

However, data from human rights organisations including the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) and Amnesty International, among other institutions, show that in the last one year there has been an increase of extra-judicial executions, torture and punitive policing during protests.

A total of 482 cases of torture and related violations were recorded, more than double the cases documented in a similar period between 2021 and 2022 which stood at 232.

Out of this figure, 128 were extra-judicial executions while three were enforced disappearances.
The freedom of assembly, association, expression and media has also faced unprecedented threats. Any increase in such cases indicate a failure to curb such violations and if the available data is anything to go by, President Ruto’s efforts to address police abuse have failed.

Consequently, there is an urgent need for a critical re-evaluation of the existing strategies and measures. As proposed by IMLU, the Ruto administration need to appoint ombudsman to monitor human rights violations, and also establish the Coroner General’s Office, victim protection fund, and a special tribunal to investigate cases of gross human rights violations.

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