The job of a police force is to enforce the law, protect the innocent and arrest the guilty. Unfortunately, in some countries this is not the reality. Despite current Kenyan laws, as well as promising new Constitutional reforms to oversee police conduct, the country’s police remain largely unchecked, operating with impunity to abuse their power over citizens. Some Kenyan police officers abuse their powers to arrest, charge, and imprison innocent citizens against whom they have no evidence. They use brutal force to coerce and extort bribes from those who can least afford them. There is no pre-trial hearing and prosecutors and magistrates often fail to ensure ‘probable cause’, so innocent men and women can be kept imprisoned for years without ever seeing a courtroom.
On those rare occasions when police in the UK abuse their power, the media and the public rise up in complaint – the BBC has reported on at least three individual cases of police abuse in the last month. However, in Kenya, there is an incorrect perception that the police’s tendency to arrest without cause helps reduce violence and crime. As a result, the media and public do not sufficiently demand change.
For many impoverished Kenyans, the police are not a force to be trusted, but to be feared. As such, IJM Kenya works to free men and women who have been imprisoned unfairly and unjustly by police who have no evidence linking them to the crimes of which they have been accused.
The 2010 Constitution transferred the prosecution of police officers to the newly independent Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and created two regulatory bodies to monitor police abuse. IJM Kenya is partnering with the Kenyan government to implement these reforms and ensure that perpetrators of police abuse are held accountable.
IJM UK joins IJM Kenya in supporting the Kenyan government to implement their vision to separate the law enforcement roles of the police and the Department of Public Prosecutions. It is IJM’s hope that in doing so, no longer will the abuse of the vulnerable be tolerated and more police will uphold their duty to serve and protect their citizens.
We are therefore launching a government advocacy campaign with a seminar at the House of Commons on Tuesday 26th June, co-hosted by Baroness Mary Goudie and Fiona Bruce, MP, followed by an open event on Wednesday 27th June.
Join us as we seek to bring change. For more information about how you can get involved, visit www.ijmuk.org/justice_campaigns or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
IJM UK Executive Director