Mrs. Anne Makori EBS.
The statute that enabled existence of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority came into effect in 2012.
It was long overdue, for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the agitation by pressure groups to transform then Kenya Police Force to a Service that is citizen-oriented in protecting life and property for all, had been bubbling under for several decades.
With time, the voices calling for a far-reaching transformation of the police only grew louder and eventually into the new millennium, got manifested when in 2002, the Government appointed a taskforce to take on the police reforms agenda.
As captured in a 2015 report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the 2002 initiative suffered “loss of momentum,” because its findings were not released to the public.
However, demands for change were reignited, reaching a crescendo after events that marked one of the darkest political period in independent Kenya – the 2007 / 2008 post-election violence, during which over 1,300 people lost their lives, hundreds of others were displaced from their homes and property worth millions of shillings was destroyed.
Inquiries that followed – Justice Waki-led Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence, probe by Philip Alston-led United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra – Judicial Killings and Justice Philip Ransley-led National Task Force on Police Reforms – all agreed on the need to transform policing in the country.
This reality led to huge changes in the country’s foundations including the promulgation of a new supreme law – Constitution of Kenya 2010.
With it came other statutes – the IPOA Act of 2012 is one of them.
While establishing the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, this legislative piece granted IPOA powers and functions to ensure it executed the cardinal mandate of ensuring that the Kenya police is a professional Service, its officers are disciplined and that they are accountable to the citizens for the actions they take while discharging their duties.
IPOA has since established firm structures to support its operations, including staffing from relevant fields of expertise, as well as providing required equipment and other tools to ensure the Authority lives up to expectations.
The Authority achieves this through research which influences policy decisions, admitting and processing complaints, conducting investigations, inspecting police premises including detention cells and monitoring activities of the police that affect members of the public, among others.
In doing so, achievements and challenges realised by the Authority have over time been shared in statutory bi-yearly performance reports and annual reports, besides other documents released regularly by the Authority.
However, the Authority undertakes many activities that culminate into these successes on one hand and on the other, reveal bottlenecks that present an opportunity to review how we do things, all with the aim of giving better services to the citizens.
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