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Public participation in the police vetting process

Police reforms! Police reforms! Police reforms!

  • 15 May 2015
  • Author: Beryl Orao
  • Number of views: 3120
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Public participation in the police vetting process

Police reforms! Police reforms! Police reforms! The much sang and much awaited changes in the service, formerly a force which Kenyans have been looking forward to as they quest for better security and policing services. Some will say the force can never change, some will say there are afew good apples in the basket, others will say it’s a politicians presidential’ s candidate election promise that never becomes, but as a human right institution, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights believes that what is documented in law is secured and therefore must be adhered to.

One of the documented journeys of the police reforms process is the vetting of all officers, top bottom, in a bid to sift the wheat from the chaff and also use the process to firm up strategies for professional service delivery. The outlined exercise is guided by standards set in varied laws such as the Constitution, the National Police Service Act and the National Police Service Commission Act. 

Apart from professionalism, the vetting also aims at building public confidence in the citizenry on their security where officers are able to adhere to human rights standards in their daily work. For these to be achieved, a provision was allowed for citizens to be involved by sharing feedback on officers being vetted during a certain period. 
As part of the key players in the police reforms process, KNCHR organized a public forum held on 24th April, 2015 in Funyula sub-county to gauge public perception on the police recruitment process.

KNCHR officer takes the public through the discussions

Majority of the participants, who included human rights defenders from Funyula and Budalangi sub-counties, indicated that they were unaware of how to participate in the vetting process or how it works. The participants also stated that information on the vetting process is hard to come by and many times they only hear about the process after the vetting has been done. 

One participant noted that, even where some members of the public take part in the vetting process, their participation is not usually meaningful since they are not armed with information on how they can constructively engage with the process. The participants and staff from the KNCHR had discussions on various issues including the importance of police vetting, principles guiding the vetting process, importance of public participation and the kind of information the National Police Service Commission would expect to receive from the public.  

While the participants appreciated the new knowledge they had gained, they also expressed fears that reporting certain police officers to the National Police Service Commission may put their lives at risk should their identities be known. The participants were assured that submissions to the NPSC do not necessarily have to come from individuals and that information can be submitted through organizations such as the KNCHR.

They were further encouraged to submit any information about any police officer, whether senior or junior, directly to the NPSC or to institutions such as the KNCHR.It is expected that similar conversations about the police vetting process will be held in the remaining six sub-counties of Busia County in order to empower more members of the public to participate meaningfully in the process.

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