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Policing Post Election Violence in Kenya Mutuma Ruteere Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Policing Post Election Violence in Kenya Mutuma Ruteere Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Policing Post Election Violence in Kenya Mutuma Ruteere Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies

2 2 Post-Election Violence in Kenya December 2007 elections pitted incumbent, President Mwai Kibaki of PNU against Raila Odinga of ODM. Campaigns preceded by divisive campaigns with ethnic mobilization. Dispute over presidential results sparked off ethnic violence in six out of the eight provinces. The epicentre of the violence was multi-ethnic Rift Valley Province Violence ended in Feb 2008 following mediation by African Union team led by Kofi Annan.

3 Post-Election Violence in Kenya Cont’d The National Accord created a coalition government with Mwai Kibaki as president and challenger Raila Odinga as Prime Minister Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence (CIPEV) concluded that 1,113 were killed and about 600,000 internally displaced. CIPEV report and independent reports concluded that Kenyan police used excessive force, were unprofessional and failed to protect life and property. Official inquiry also concluded that the police were overwhelmed by the violence.

4 A Clarification on Kenyan Police Kenya has two police forces- Kenya Police Force and Administration Police. Kenya Police Force a largely urban force with responsibility for crime prevention and management. Administration Police largely rural with principal responsibility of supporting state administrators, protection of state property and border protection. Under new constitution, both forces to be headed by an Inspector General of Police

5 Police (Mis)Conduct During PEV Of the 1,113 people killed, 405 were suspected to have been killed by the police. In Nyanza Province (home of opposition candidate Raila Odinga), 134 people died, 107 of them (80%) from gunshot wounds. Of 214 people admitted to hospital, 48 had gunshot wounds. In Kisumu City (the capital of Nyanza Province and political bastion of ODM candidate Raila Odinga), 50 of the 56 bodies examined by a pathologist had gunshot wounds. Of those 50 killed, 30 were shot from behind.

6 Police (Mis)Conduct During PEV Cont’d In Western Province (another key opposition area), of the 98 people killed, 70 died of gunshot wounds. In Rift Valley Province (another key opposition area and epicentre of violence) of the 779 killed, 194 of them died from gunshot wounds. CIPEV report concluded that many of these people were killed by the police. There were also cases of rapes by police officers.

7 Police as Executive Tools According to scholarly studies: –Kenyan police have no autonomy from the executive branch of government –The policies and operations of Kenyan police are determined by the interests of the political regime of the day From this view then, the police can be seen as doing the bidding of the government of the day.

8 Police as Executive Tools Cont’d Most of those suspected to have been killed by the police were opposition supporters. The International Criminal Court is seeking to indict the then Commissioner of Police for failure to protect opposition supporters. Kenyan police blocked opposition supporters from marching to the central square in Nairobi, Uhuru Park. They also blocked opposition supporting residents of poor neighborhoods from moving out of their neighborhoods.

9 Police as Executive Tools Cont’d Kenya police generally acted to preserve the government of the day. Should we be surprised by this? Everywhere in the world, police forces are conservative organizations. They support the status quo. If we extend this recognition to Kenyan police, we must explore additional explanations for their conduct.

10 Police (In)Capacity The question of capacity deficits within the police largely lost in the discussion on PEV. CIPEV report however notes that Kenyan police were largely unprepared to deal with such large scale violence. Serious incapacity to process and utilize crime data and intelligence. Lack of intelligence coordination between the National Security Intelligence Service and Kenya police forces.

11 The Question of Capacity Cont’d Limited numbers: total force complement of some 73,956 officers for a population of 38 million. In 2007, 55,110 officers were already engaged in electoral duties by the time the violence broke out A further 3,000 officers regularly deployed in non-core policing functions. Consequently, only 15,846 officers were available to respond to violence in six of the eight provinces.

12 Police as Vigilantes and Private Profiteers Kenyan police have a long history of tolerating rogue units. Many such units (e.g. Kwekwe Squad, Rhino Squad) set up to deal with emerging criminal groups. By 2007, some of the units had metamorphosed into vigilantes, carrying out summary executions of suspected criminals. During the PEV, such police vigilantes ended up supporting their ethnic kin and political allies. Some police officers also became “war profiteers” working with criminal mobs to loot.

13 Police as Ethnic Partisans The PEV was essentially an ethnic conflict as much as it was a political one. A significant number of police officers deployed to respond to the violence ended up taking sides on an ethnic basis In some cases, police officers failed to protect victims of different ethnicities. Ethnicity is an unaddressed question in Kenyan security institutions. Though every administrative unit (district) is awarded a quota in recruitment, police leadership is skewed in favour of the president’s ethnic kin.

14 Police as Ethnic Partisans Cont’d We do not know how this has affected policing priorities in Kenya. However, it has resulted in suspicion that the police are biased in favour of the president. Suspected use of Administration Police in spreading hate leaflets against the opposition ODM before the elections further eroded confidence in the police. The police not seen as “neutral instruments of a supra- ethnic state entity.”

15 Conclusions Police forces in many African countries have not been sufficiently studied as actors in their own right. Bulk of the research reduces them to cardboard images of executive puppets. This view ignores the many other interests, processes and factors that shape police conduct in public order policing. The view also limits police reform efforts to just securing legal and institutional independence from the executive. A criminal accountability model in reviewing police conduct in public order maintenance is not sufficient.

16 Thank You Questions?

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