Friday, December 01, 2017

Reform-proof attitudes

I may be wrong, but even in Kenya the police surely must undergo some form of training to know when and how to use deadly force. It is thereason why the Kenya Police Service has Kiganjo and the Administration Police Service has Manyani. Lord knows where the General Service Unit undergoes firearms training, but I am assuming the same basic instruction will cover the hows and wherefores of the use of deadly force.

What I cannot be sure of is whether the so-called police reforms recommended in the Ransley Report took into account the reason for the existence of the National Police Service: national security. The Constitution defines "national security" as,
"the protection against internal and external threats to Kenya’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, its people, their rights, freedoms, property, peace, stability and prosperity, and other national interests."
Despite the constitutional definition of "national security", which applies to the national security organs established in Article 239 (1) including the National Police Service, the principal reason for the existence of the police is the preservation of the power, authority, prestige and dignity of the national Executive as personified in the President. In the Service's mind, anything that threatens the power, authority, prestige or dignity of the President is a treasonous crime, and anyone who commits that crime is guilty of treason and anyone who offers the traitor any assistance whatsoever deserves the same fate.

The National Police Service very rarely sees its principal duty as the safety of the people or their property. Indeed, one of the signs that it considers the people as the enemy or potential enemies or fifth columnists hell-bent on aiding in the commission of treasonous acts by the enemies of the President is the hyper-militarisation of public spaces: the police occupy these spaces as it were an military occupying force in enemy territory. It is why policemen are always armed with assault rifles and situate armed personnel carriers at key choke-points in public spaces, especially urban areas.

Because of its character and guiding philosophy, it is almost certain that the policeman who shot dead Geoffrey Mutinda will ever be known or held to account for his or her actions. The late Master Mutinda was a casualty of a policy that treats any possible embarassment of the Commander-in-Chief as a national security crisis to which the only rational response is overwhelming and deadly force. Master Mutinda was killed because he lived in an area whose residents had allowed to be used by traitors who intended to embarass the President on the day he was to take his oath of office. This could not stand. And when less effective messages were ignored by the President's enemies (senior officials in the county government arranged for lorry-loads of garbage and sewerage to be dumped in the venue), there was no choice but to put down the treasonous insurrection with deadly force if needed. The President's enemies would not back down. The use of live ammunition was inevitable. Master Mutinda's tragic death was all but certain.

How the police reacted afterwards is instructive. A senior member of the National Police Service declared that the police is "the authority that enforces the law", implying that it is the police to decide what the law means, including when it is fit and proper to enter any area under force of arms and deploy deadly force to deal with a threat to peace and [national] security. Since the general election of the 26th August and the second inaugural of the President on the 28th December, the number of Kenyans who have been killed by the police as it attempted to crash all attempts at embarassing the President have only exposed the National Police Service as a handmaiden to a philosophy that has defied all reform. We have issued them with new insignia, uniforms and titles but policemen retain the same attitudes they did before the promulgation of the Constitution in August 2010 and no constitutional definition of the Service's mandates will change the situation unless the reason for its existence changes.

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