Independent Policing Oversight Authority Chief Executive Officer Elema Halake has today joined other Criminal Justice leaders who met to find yet another gear in pursuit of fundamental freedoms for all in Kenya.
The meeting, also fashioned to bridge the gap between State agencies and communities they serve, included training of selected journalists from the Coastal Region, a series now in its fourth cycle.
In a fast-paced media engagement after the meeting, Mr. Halake responded to queries raised including the steady rise of complaints by members of the public against the police, saying it is an indicator the Authority’s strategy to improve access to its services, was bearing fruits.
“IPOA has been growing over the years. Having started in Nairobi in 2012, we have increased to nine offices across the country by 2023 and it’s our intention to continue expanding in line with the Constitution,” he said.
Spreading the wings
Mr Halake went on: “The officers we oversight are spread across Kenya and the police institution has existed for a long time leaving us with a lot of ground to cover. But we have established a lot of other channels that the members of the public can take advantage of and reach us.”
The CEO listed them – Toll-free line 1559, Facebook, Twitter, email, website.
Director of Public Prosecutions Mr Renson Ingonga, also brought to the attention of the meeting, an agenda he has set out to drive his tenure in office.
In the agenda, among others, the DPP will appoint Regional liaison officers, who would ensure coordination between IPOA and his office. Internal Affairs Unit of the Police will also be incorporated in the plan.
And in a bid to cope with rising numbers of complaints, Mr Halake announced that more IPOA outlets are on the way, all aimed at bringing its services closer to the people.
He noted: “To cope, besides the channels already established, IPOA is in process of establishing satellite offices at Huduma centres through collaboration and cooperation because there is a clear testimony that the public have issues on the way policing is conducted. And we shall reach them.”
Voice of the people
Further Mr Halake appreciated the training forum targeting the journalists and told them: “You are the accountability mechanism for the country and your are the voice of the public.”
He then delved into the thorny issue of deploying Kenyan police officers to Haiti, a country turned into a gangland.
“From legal standing officers operating outside Kenya are not subject to IPOA oversight but as an institution representing the interest of public, IPOA is keenly following concerns raised by Kenyans, “Mr Elake said.
He continued: “It is our wish that IG responds to concerns like the welfare of these officers, including pre-deployment training, selection and coordination. Its within our mandate to ask what is the level of preparation before they are deployed. I can assure you the Board of IPOA is keen on this matter and engagement is going on. It is part of information we are asking the Inspector General of Police.”
In the engagement, IPOA top hierarchy is interested in knowing the numbers to be deployed and the units targeted, among other issues.
Other chiefs at the meeting represented Witness Protection Agency, Amnesty International, International Justice Mission, and Heinrich Boll Foundation. The meeting brought together other organisations under the umbrella of Missing Voices.