Friday, May 27, 2016

Brutalisation is the goal.

Does anyone know what the Force Standing Orders of the Kenya Prisons Service state when wardens are pursuing an escaped prisoner? What are the rules of engagement when the prisoner flees through a civilian institution, such as a girls' secondary school? When are prison wardens permitted to use deadly force, such as discharging their firearms at the fleeing prisoner? Dos it matter where the prisoner is relative to the warden? If what we are seeing about an alleged shooting in Migori is true, then I would posit that, (a) there are no rules of engagement, (b) that if there are rules of engagement, they permit shooting at any time, and (c) it doesn't seem to mind where a shooting takes place so long as a fleeing prisoner is either apprehended or killed.

Kenya's law enforcement and prisons' administration mirrors the United States' to a disturbing degree: law enforcement officers and prisons warders are armed to the teeth more often than not. They not armed with side-arms, either; when they are armed, it is always with automatic assault rifles like AK-47s and G3s, which are nothing as they seem in the movies but menacing and threatening all at once. Seeing armed police or prisons officers going about their work is to watch an armed force, more or less, occupy your free and not-so-free spaces with their malevolence and menace.

Perhaps their training irons things out, but I believe that an armed man is likely to resort to the use of his arms at the slightest provocation instead of finding and employing an alternative non-violent method. It seems to matter not whether the arms in question are firearms or rungus; if a law enforcement officer is armed, he will use his weapon should he perceive a threat rather than find an alternative method to address the threat. Not all threats are meant to be met with the force of arms.

Unless we subscribe to the patently racist colonial characterisations of Kenyans as inherently violent and inherently violent towards members of the disciplined services, there is no rationale to explain why every member of the disciplined forces should be armed to the teeth as if they were awaiting an armed assault by a foreign army. Whenever you encounter police officers while on patrol during the day, if they are armed you are likely to experience a moment of anxiety because few of us trust that the police will treat you with respect or dignity.

It was a mistake to place police (and later on, the Prisons Department, the KWS and the KFS) under the national security institutions of Chapter Fourteen of the Constitution. The national-security instincts are orientated towards the use of overwhelming force to neutralise threats against the state, such as the National Security Council has proposed against Raila Odinga's ill-advised jihad against the IEBC. It is why prisons wardens don't think twice about firing recklessly at fleeing prisoners. If schoolchildren are caught in the line of fire, that is a small price to pay to preserve the fear of the State that national security institutions seek to instill in the people.

Our prisons system is designed to brutalise, just as policing is and the other national security institutions are. It is why all prisons are overcrowded and spectacularly unsanitary. It is why prison wardens are remunerated poorly and housed in even more abject conditions than you could imagine. The entire system is not designed for the rehabilitation of prisoners; it is designed for the brutalisation of the offender and his jailer. The only logical outcome of such a system is the death by gunfire of innocent bystanders.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are just a normal monger vomiting words about institutions like KENYA PRISONS SERVICE whom you don,t even know how they operate.Read and understand the prisons act(cap 90)before writing anything about Kenya prisons.