It is time to arrest rising police brutality

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Police brutality. Photo/Courtesy

An ominous wave of police brutality is sweeping across country, making a mockery of the so-called reforms in the policing and law enforcement.

It has brought memories of the dark old days when rogue officers reigned terror on innocent citizens.

This worrying trend has elicited alarm not only from the public that police are ironically meant to serve and protect, but also the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa).

Two separate tragic incidences in the city estates last week demonstrate the return of the brute mentality in the rank and file of the service.

First, was cold-blooded shooting to death of a 17-year-old in Mwiki area in Nairobi’s Kasarani during a protest over the deplorable state of the roads in the area.

Though picketing is a constitutional right, some trigger-happy officers descended on the protesters in the name of quelling the ensuing riots, leaving one dead and several injured.

Reports that the young man was on his knees and had surrendered when he was shot are even more disturbing. 

The other incident was the shooting in the head of a 10-year-old boy in Pumwani during a protest over the extra-judicial killing of a youth by law enforcement officers. 

Many more such cases across the country go unreported either out ignorance or mortal fear of possible reprisal.

That the two incidences occurred in riotous situations is a damning indictment on the preparedness and training of the police in handling and managing protests. 

Yesterday, Ipoa released some disturbing statistics—it had received 13,681 complaints on police abuse which triggered 1,518 investigations it completed, while 1,754 are yet to be fully probed.

But there was a further revelation; the rising cases of police resorting to using excessive force and extra-judicial killings.

However, the oversight agency, whose mandate is to hold the police to account and ensure professional conduct, is encumbered in investigating abuses by police because of the  intimidation of witnesses by the rogue cops. This undermines due process and the culprits go unpunished. 

The other disturbing aspect is that most of the police brutality is visited on the poor and vulnerable youth in urban informal settlement, where many have fallen victim to extra-judicial killings.

Clearly, Ipoa has plenty of work to do to not only rid the service of rogue elements, but to hold to account individual officers committing crimes in the name  of policing. 

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