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IPOA probing alleged police misconduct during Operation Usalama

14 July 2014, 17:58 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), a constitutional institution mandated to monitor and investigate police operations affecting the public, is probing alleged misconduct by police officers during the Operation Usalama Watch.

IPOA Chairman, Macharia Njeru said the Authority has received many complaints from the public accusing the police of corruption, violation of human rights provisions and other unethical conduct during the operation to weed out terrorists.

“There were allegations of people with valid documents being arrested in violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms. Some detainees alleged that police officers engaged in corruption during their arrest and transportation to police stations,” said Njeru.

Njeru said the public reported to IPOA that the responsible General Service Unit, and Administration Police officers took bribes ranging from KES 1 000 to KES 20 000 to avoid arrest or safe their household items from confiscation for failure of producing receipts.  

“The detainees and members of the public further complained for harassment, being roughed up, inappropriate touching and demand of receipts for household items such as electronics and other home appliances,” said Njeru.

“IPOA is conducting further investigations into 29 complaints on harassment, extortion and assault emanating from the operation with the view to recommending criminal prosecution where it finds the allegations to be substantiated,” he added.

The IPOA Chairman also stated that the operation was poorly planned and coordinated where junior officers seemed to lack close supervision and guidance especially the repeated searching of similar residential areas by different officers in addition to overcrowding detainees in cells.

“The detention facilities, in particular washrooms at Industrial Area, Buru Buru, Kasarani and JKIA Police Stations were very dirty with some having blocked drainage. There were also allegations of lack of proper coordination in relocation of detainees to the various police stations resulting into overcrowding of cells at some of the stations,” stated Njeru.

“For instance, the team established that the cell capacity at JKIA Police Station is 30 detainees. However, on the night of 8th April 2014, JKIA had 92 detainees. Similarly, the cell at Kasarani Police Station is approximately 100 detainees, on 16th April 2014; the station had 214 detainees while the Pangani Police Station with a capacity of 80, on 8th April 2014 had 152 detainees,” he revealed.

Njeru asserted that the overcrowding in the cells forced some of the detainees to spend the night in cold within the police station while others stood the whole night in the cells due to inadequate space.

“In Kasarani, JKIA and Industrial Area Police Stations, children and adults were confined in the same cells. In some instances, detainees complained of insufficient food,” reiterated Njeru.

He further said the detainees’ constitutional rights were grossly violated especially by locking up the arrested persons for more than 24 hours during the operation before being arraigned in court which is against the Constitution’s time limit provision.

On insecurity challenge facing the country, Njeru held that the Authority believes the problem is solvable with cohesive approach by the top brass police commanders.

“The different Police Services, specifically, Kenya Police, Administration Police, and the CID are pulling in different directions each being in competition with the other. We have pointed out before and we repeat that there is a breakdown of the command and control structure,” said the IPOA Chairman.

“The police leadership must provide strategic leadership that caters for a well-managed on National Police Service with a cohesive chain of command. The Service cannot continue with same old strategies and tactics and expect different results,” he challenged.

Njeru called on the public to cooperate with security agencies in providing relevant information to assist in the fight against insecurity.

He lauded the government for allocating the security sector a lot of funds and cautioned that IPOA will hold individual police officers accountable for the looming insecurity.

Njeru was speaking at a press briefing during the launch of Usalama Watch Report.

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