Police now puppets of the executive, LSK President laments
Monday, 3rd April 2023
The National Police Service (NPS) is no longer independent of the executive, and is relying on orders from top government officials in discharging its duties, according to the president of the Law Society of Kenya, Eric Theuri.
Theuri made the remarks in an interview with Nation.Africa, where he expressed fears over the executive’s influence in the country’s policing. “There is overwhelming evidence that the police service is no longer independent. It is tied to the executive and is taking illegal orders from the executive,” he said.
“They are discharging their mandate in a highly partisan manner and unless the IG retraces his steps, he is going to take us back to the yester years when the police was not a service but a force. A lot of time, effort and resources have been put to ensure we have an accountable and independent police service. But the current IG is in a mad rush to take us back to years when the police were a tool used to control the opposition or those who are perceived to be anti-government,” he added.
The NPS has come under sharp criticism from human rights organizations, activists, media stakeholders and a section of the public for its handling of the opposition protests.
Various instances of police excesses were recorded over the past two weeks, with two civilians shot dead in protests last week and multiple demonstrators and media professionals brutalized by police officers.
These incidents have been blamed in part to a declaration by the Inspector General of Police that the protests were illegal.
In his interview, Theuri affirmed that declaring protests illegal was in itself not legal.
“Every Kenyan has a right under Article 37 to demonstrate and present petitions to any public institution. The attempt by the government to declare those protests illegal has no legal backing.
Once the police have been notified of the protests, they should actually provide security to both the protesters and members of the public. Then the protests should proceed in a manner that does not impede other public activities,” the LSK president said.
“The responses to the demonstrations by the police to a certain extent have only triggered violent response from the protesters, leading to a breakdown of law and order. Also, I think the protests have been carried out in a manner that has affected normal public life and activities,” he added.
Theuri also expressed his concern that the concerning capture of state security agencies may have spread far too wide already, pointing out that even the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the General Police Unit may also be puppets of top government officials.
“I think you get the feeling that some institutions, including the General Police unit and the DCI, are extremely compromised. There is overwhelming evidence that shows they have lost their independence and professionalism,” he said.
On Sunday, President William Ruto and Raila Odinga issued statements leaning towards parliament-led dialogues to iron out the issues the opposition raised in their protests. Odinga further called the bi-weekly protests off.
Many Kenyans have however expressed their expectation that even with the new-found mutual ground, the police who killed and meted violence against protesters will be brought to book and held accountable.
The families of the two men who were killed in the protests, as well as the infant that died as a result of toxic teargas fumes, will be hoping to find justice. Missing Voices Coalition will keep the course on this quest and remain a champion for justice to be delivered.
Three lives lost is too many for a country whose government has constantly said it will abide to the rule of law.
We hope in the instances above, as well as many others that may still crop up, the law is followed and the rogue police officers are held accountable.