Rights body opposes changes to police laws

A government-owned human rights watchdog has opposed proposed amendments to the National Police Service Commission Act terming them unconstitutional.

The changes would not also address insecurity in the country, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said.

The commission said the changes that seek to limit the powers of the National Police Service Commission contradict the constitution.

“The changes sought can only be realised through a constitutional referendum,” KNCHR acting chairperson Ann Munyiva Ngugi, said.

She said the deletion of the sub section 22 (2) of the National Police Service Act to allow the Inspector General of Police get advice from Cabinet Secretary as opposed to from NPSC shall weaken the commission.

Addressing journalists at CVS Plaza in Nairobi, Ms Munyiva said: “This move shall weaken the Commission whose one role was to appoint and institute disciplinary function within the National Police Service.”

“The proposed changes threaten to make policing an individual affair between the Inspector General and the Cabinet Secretary,” Ms Munyiva said.

She was accompanied by commission secretary Patricia Nyaundi and head of investigations Victor Kamau

According to Ms Munyiva, deletion of section 71 (2) (3) (4) of the NPS Act will make the Johnstonne Kavuludi led NPSC to lose control over the National Police Service in provision of authority to those who want to engage in business and other forms of employment.

“This is transferred to the Inspector General and thus opening it to abuse and likelihood of favouritism and nepotism and thus losing professionalism along the way. Past experience shows this is a power that is open to abuse for example the case of Mr Waiganjo the police impostor,” Ms Munyiva said.

The amendment of Section 87 of NPS Act which would require the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) to make recommendations to the IG as opposed to the NPSC on disciplinary measures as per constitution, KNCHR said is illogical.

“It is logical that the mechanism that employs should also be empowered to discipline,” Ms Munyiva said.

KNCHR said the amendment Article 89 of the NPS Act that would require police officers facing disciplinary actions to be accompanied by officers senior to them in rank as opposed to them appearing with officers of their choice is an infringement to their right to privacy.

KNCHR also opposed amendments to section 8 of the NPS Act that seeks to transfer the powers of promotion and transfers to the office of the IG.

“We remind those seeking such an amendment that the NPSC is a creation of the constitution with express functions to recruit, appoint, confirm appointments, determine promotions and transfers,” KNCHR said.

It said since the IG in the NPSC, he is aware of the actions being undertaken and should thus leave the Commission to practice its autonomy.

“Should this fail to be observed, an avenue of abuse is bound to be opened, taking Kenyans back to the days where loyalty to the Commissioner of Police meant transfer and promotion to key units and formations within the force,” Ms Munyiva said.

Ms Munyiva said the attacks on constitutional commissions including the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution and NPSC was part of resistance to reforms.

“We are confident if the reforms are implemented as envisaged they will result in better working conditions for our brothers and sisters who serve in the police service and Kenyans will enjoy a secure country,” Ms Munyiva said.