IPOA has mandate to oversight joint police-military operation, Amnesty Kenya head affirms
Thursday, 16th February 2023
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has the legal mandate to oversight the joint police-military operation announced by the government, according to Houghton Irũngũ, the Executive Director for Amnesty International Kenya.
Irungu made the remarks at an interview on KTN on Wednesday, where he joined other experts in a discussion on various issues, including President William Ruto’s order to the Kenya Defence Forces(KDF) to join the National Police Service in security operations in all bandit-prone areas.
“The operation needs to be oversighted clearly. One of the challenges when you have KDF deployment in a civilian population is that you do not have oversight of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), potentially also the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights,” Irũngũ said.
“But I think in this particular case, it is very clear that the KDF are supplementing the National Police Service, and therefore in that regard, it will fall very squarely under the mandate of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority,” he added.
The panel on KTN also discussed the need to follow the prescribed legal procedure before the KDF troops are deployed.
The Amnesty Kenya chief pointed out that human rights organizations were following the deployment, and was aware the National Assembly had already set plans to debate the issue.
Parliament was scheduled to consider on Wednesday President Ruto’s order to deploy KDF to six bandit-hit counties.
Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah on Tuesday tabled the request by Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale, with Defence and Foreign Relations Committee chairman Nelson Koech saying his committee was seized of the matter.
Speaking on the panel, political analyst Ahmed Hashi affirmed that there was a need to follow the due process despite the government’s wish to expedite the operation’s commencement. “I firmly believe that there needs to be speed, there needs to be a dispatch and these things need to be solved, but on the other hand there is need for there to be the rule of law and a legal authority. If something really terrible happens there, these soldiers need to be covered by the rule of law. They are going there to suppress and they are going to use violence. Civilians are going to get caught in the act. They need a background legislation that tells them that what they are doing is legal. Otherwise someone is going to the Kenya High Court and sue our soldiers. And we don’t want that. So we want to tell the National Assembly to do its job and pass this legislation,” Hashi said.