Suba Churchill-Civil Society Reference Group National Coordinator

The Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG) has scoffed at reported commendation of the police by President Uhuru Kenyatta even after being blamed for numerous killings and brutality during the ended electioneering period.

In a statement, CSRG said the approval is the latest death knell on police reforms.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta’s approval and commendation of the police for “being professional and firm” during the just concluded 2017 electioneering period is callous, insensitive and confirms the widely held fears that it has become the official government policy under his watch for police to kill, brutalize and main Kenyans in the pretext of maintaining law and order,” it read.

Through its presiding Convener Suba Churchill, the group said the applause from the President to the police coming as it does even before Elizabeth Katungwa buries her seven-year old son who was shot dead by the police on the same day that the president took oath of office promising to “be president and custodian of the dreams of all Kenyans” is a chilling pointer that the shoot-to-kill policy is not just bad behavior on the part of individual police officers but a government policy sanctioned by the presidency.

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“The whole country is appalled that at a time when bereaved families are still collecting and burying their dead, killed by the police for attempting to exercise their constitutionally protected rights to peaceful assembly, demonstration and picketing, the presidency has the audacity to decorate wayward police officers who did not follow the law in controlling crowds even during his own swearing in ceremony when his supporters who had turned up at the invitation of the government were teargassed and maimed as they sought to access the venue of the ceremony”.

Suba added that such acquiescence of brutality from the presidency is meant to achieve one thing; undermine the constitutional independence of the police service as provided for in Article 245 of the Constitution and Section 8 of the National Police Service Act.

He said that the effect of the acclamation will spawn more brutality, human rights violations and impunity in a police service whose motto is no longer “Utumishi kwa Wote – Service to All” but to the political establishment of the day.

The requirement of Section 8A (2) of the National Police Service Act that the Inspector- General exercises Command over the National Police Service and lawfully administer, control and manage the National Police Service as a disciplined Service “seems to have been thrown to the dogs”.

The statement further reiterated that section 61 and the Sixth Schedule thereto of the National Police Service Act is also clear on when police should use force in dealing with situations. Use of force is allowed in circumstances where police have tried non-violent means and failed.

“But what we have witnessed during the entire election period were police officers dragging people from their houses, pelting protesters and motorists with stones and shooting at people with live bullets even in circumstances that did not require application of force.”

CSRG said that it witnessed numerous instances where police indiscriminately fire live bullets at protestors, kill them and take their bodies to the mortuary without bothering to follow the law.

“If these are the “acts of professionalism” for which President Uhuru Kenyatta has bedecked the police, then Kenya is no longer the constitutional democracy guided by the National Values and Principles of Governance as espoused in Article 10 of the Constitution in which the right to life and other civil liberties are respected and protected by the State, but a dictatorship steadily rolling down the path of lawlessness and unprecedented human rights violations”.

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