Saturday, January 19, 2008

Maj Gen Mohamed Hussein Ali: Please Resign!

I will never forget Mr Shadrack M'Laaria Kiruki-Former Kenya Police Commissioner. He is an excellent teacher, inspirer, and gentleman. Those of us who were privileged to sit under his tutelage in Kiganjo remember how he used to explain complex terminologies and principles of the Kenyan Police law in a way that even the Police recruits and Police cadets whose brains were “fried” could understand. At that time, we thought that the Kenyan Police would turn out to be the best in the region if not in Africa as a whole. Unfortunately, this is just the direct opposite!

There is no question to the fact that Kenyan Police officers, under normal circumstances, work in situations that most people in the world never experience. They provide 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week protection for their communities. They may work all night, then wait in court all day. Alternatively, they may work all night, when most people sleep, then come home to their families getting ready to start their day. On the other hand, they may work all night, trying to stay awake when things are calm, yet be alert to suddenly respond to a robbery or homicide and handle it properly. Or, they may work all night, aware of the resulting fatigue and poor health that comes from unnatural sleep patterns. Or, worst of all, they may work all night knowing that their families never may see them alive again. How many people face the same situations as Kenyan police officers? The answer is: Very Few!

Having said all these, I still maintain that there is just no justification for the Kenyan Police to be so brutal, bloodthirsty and have no regard for human life. Maj Gen Mohamed Hussein Ali, the Kenyan Constitution provides Kenyans with the right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Part of the reasonableness inquiry is to determine whether the execution itself of a particular search was reasonable. The execution of a search warrant typically begins with law enforcement officers making entry into the location to be searched. To be deemed reasonable, officers are required to knock and announce prior to their entry unless there is a reason to dispense with this requirement. The Kenyan courts have recognized that failing to knock and announce (and lacking a valid reason not to) amounts to an unreasonable search and, thus, an unconstitutional one, however, the same courts have made it clear that the knock and announce constitutional requirement is not absolute but, rather, that "countervailing law enforcement interests" could make knocking and announcing unnecessary. Cited as legitimate reasons to dispense with knocking and announcing were if the searching officers would be facing "a threat of physical violence"; having "reason to believe that evidence would likely be destroyed if advance notice were given"; or when advance notice "would enable a prisoner to escape." This last potential exception points out that the knock and announce requirement applies to all entries--whether the purpose once inside is to search the location or to arrest someone.

The underlying rationale for the requirement to give notice prior to making entry makes this across-the-board application logical. The requirement is designed to maintain the sanctity of a person's home. The sanctity of the home should be safeguarded regardless of whether it is a person or an object to be seized that is the reason for law enforcement's entry. Protecting the sanctity of a person's home was the justification for the common law knock and announce rule that was incorporated into the Kenyan law. As the early cases recognized, entry was going to be made. Knocking and announcing prior to entry merely provided the owner with the chance to comply before damage was done to his dwelling.

The reason why am laboring to elaborate all this is to make a point that even those of us who are not in the Kenyan Police force do understand what a Kenyan Police Officer is trained to do. Therefore, what your officers are doing is unacceptable, regrettable and totally against the law. The innocent blood that has been shed, the hundreds of graves that have been dug for innocent Kenyans and the properties worth millions that have been destroyed by the Kenyan Police officers in the recent past will never be recovered. Having said all these, Maj Gen Mohamed Hussein Ali I request you to resign in the interest of the Kenyan people and humanity in general.

Related article:
Kenya: Lobby Condemns Police Brutality And Slide to Anarchy

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008


A statement issued by National Convention Executive Council today, following confrontations between opposition supporters and the police in parts of the country:

While we acknowledge that there is high rate of violence incidences posing a major challenge to law and order enforcement in Kenya, National Convention Executive Council strongly condemn police brutality and outright extrajudicial killings of unarmed and peaceful demonstrators. We abhor the sadistic criminality nature of police in response to demonstrators in Kisumu yesterday. It is unbelievable that a police officer can open fire and execute a demonstrator and walk away without remorse or regret.

There is a grave danger that even when police genuinely believe a person has participated in some form of political violence, they are resorting to extrajudicial executions and other excessive use of force instead of effectively disarming and arresting the suspect. We urge that all police officers that commit human rights abuses are removed from duty and are prosecuted. Also members of vigilante groups responsible for human rights abuses should be arrested and tried in a court of law.

Despite government denial and justification for incidences police brutality, the approach to law enforcement is becoming primarily one of confrontation and violence rather than prevention and respect for human rights. It is shocking and awesome watching police literally and shameless committing extrajudicial executions when responding to suspected criminal activities and eruptions of political violence.

It is unfortunate that these actions by police are only going to worsen and escalate the violence. NCEC believes that political differences are not being resolved in civilized manner due to lack of goodwill to create congenial democratic environment. We are extremely alarmed and worried about the unprecedented breakdown of law and order in Kenya, and government's inability to protect all segments of population.

People must be allowed to exercising their rights of protest against policies or acts that contravene those rights, and that respect to international human rights, norms, laws and Constitution is paramount. However, we are encouraging Kenyans to conduct their protests with decorum and respecting other people's rights as well. We are indulging all Kenyan people who hold dear freedom of expression, democratic values and civil rights to condemn these violations by the Government of Kenya.

We draw particular attention to international community to use their influence to restrain the Government of Kenya from carrying out further violations. Such widespread use of violence against opposition political and civil rights activists contravenes fundamental human rights, including rights of association and protest, guaranteed by the laws and Constitution of Kenya.

NCEC deplore the fact that not only have the security forces failed in their duty to protect citizenry, but in many instances have actually participated in the violence and were responsible for extrajudicial killings themselves. It is regrettable that hundreds of people have been killed- conservative figures of 600 people- and continue to be killed without any serious concerted actions and effective intervention to stop the spread of violence. Prosecutions of those suspected to have orchestrated or encouraged this violence remain extremely rare.

It is evidently emerging that the hostility between different groups has been directly or indirectly nurtured by the government's failure to address underlying historical political or economic tensions or claims of marginalization. Many of these communities' grievances are rooted in historical discrimination on the basis of "indigenous" or "non-indigenous". Also local level politicians or community leaders have exacerbated explosive tensions for their own political gain. NCEC urges that anyone found responsible for organizing or encouraging this violence is brought to justice without delay.

Related Story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7194832.stm

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