Following the recent killing of suspects in Eastleigh (Nairobi) by law enforcement officers, a number of things come up that require a sober national debate.
The chilling narrations by members of the public on their brutal encounter with criminals, tales from families of security officers who have been murdered by thugs and voices from human rights defenders point to the need to find a balance between the rule of law and protection of the rights of law enforcement officers.
The country must decide how to deal with criminal gangs, law enforcement and the due process in handling the issues.
Why are the law enforcement officers and criminals killing each other? Could it be that the intelligence services and the judicial system have cracks and suspects and law enforcement officers are rogue?
The youth must be told that crime does not pay while officers be reminded of their professional obligation. Where is the National Crime Research Centre in this and how far is the forensic laboratory? We need data.
The same happens to the war on terrorism, drugs and other national challenges; we need a multi-agency and sectoral approach to the war on armed robberies and possession of illegal guns.
Out of the estimated 100 million small arms and light weapons in Africa, Kenya is home to about 650,000 illegal small arms.
Because they are easily available, are cheap, easy to carry and use, the arms of choice to all categories of criminals especially for cattle rustlers, carjackers, terrorists, pirates and other criminal gangs.
Non-State actors and academicians need to join hands with the State to deal with these matters of extrajudicial killings and felling of law enforcement agents by criminals.
Insecurity stifles development. A number of buildings in some of the mentioned estates are not occupied while businesses are moving from places including Eastleigh, making the CBD increasingly insecure.
Officers live in fear and thus it’s a life of who gets the other first.
Officers need right tools and support from the intelligence and judicial sectors in the war on crime.
The use of force is guided by the UN protocols and the Force Standing Orders, thus they should ensure they are guided including self-protection.
Kenya has ratified the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons and also hosts the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), an intergovernmental entity, which oversees the implementation of the Nairobi Protocol.
Addressing the issue of small arms is the central element in tackling the major threats to Kenya’s security, including extrajudicial killings and killing of law enforcement officers.
There should be a strong rallying point for both the Government and civil society to take action against the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons jointly.