In Summary
  • In attempting to sneak in the abolished provincial administration, the bill proposes to create new terms – Service Delivery Unit (SDU) and the National Government Administrative Officer.

  • It defines the SDU as an institutional framework for execution of functions of national government including functions of the police service under this act and in any other written law.

Chiefs, their assistants and village elders may soon have sweeping powers over the operations of police officers within their jurisdiction if Parliament passes proposed amendments to the National Police Service Act.

In what looks like the reintroduction of the abolished provincial administration through the back-door, the bill proposes to give village elders, assistant chiefs, chiefs all the way to county and regional commanders, the powers to command and deploy police officers regardless of their ranks in service without necessarily getting the nod of the Inspector General (IG).

CIVIILIAN AUTHORITY

If the bill sails through in its current form, it will drastically dilute the independence of the office of the IG contrary to Article 245 (2) of the constitution and cause more confusion in the operations of the service.

Article 245 (2) provides that the IG shall exercise independent command over the National Police Service, and perform any other functions prescribed by national legislation.

The bill targets seven sections in the NPS Act – the preamble, new definitions of Service Delivery Unit and National Government Administrative Officer, deployment of the police, county policing authorities, the police service disciplinary board and the community policing.

Although the police, just like the other security agents, are subordinate to civilian authority under the NPS Act, the bill proposes inclusion of Article 239 (5) of the constitution, which will effectively expand civilian authority over the police to include the village elders, chiefs, their assistants and bosses at the county and regional level.

“An Act of Parliament to give effect to Articles 243, 239 (5), 244 and 245 of the constitution, to provide for the operations of the National Police Service; and for connected purposes,” the bill, which has not been owned but is believed to be from the government, reads.

INDEPENDENT COMMAND

“National Government Administrative officers shall be responsible for overseeing police service under their respective Service Delivery Administrative boundaries in accordance with Article 239 (5) of the constitution and any other written law,” it adds.

Amnesty International-Kenya in a statement has already opposed the bill alongside Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale (Garissa Township) and Mr Demas Kiprono of the Police Reform Working Group.

“The subordination to civilian authority via an Act of Parliament must not be contrary to the Constitution. The independence of the IG connotes the state or condition of being free from dependence, subjection or control,” Amnesty says.

Command, according to Amnesty International, means an order, imperative direction, or behest to direct with authority, power to dominate and control.

“Command, under the constitution, is a preserve of the authority of the IG only. To the extent that the proposed inclusion intends to justify the interference with the independent command of the IG outside of, or contrary to the stated constitutional provisions, it is unconstitutional.”

SERVICE DELIVERY

In attempting to sneak in the abolished provincial administration, the bill proposes to create new terms – Service Delivery Unit (SDU) and the National Government Administrative Officer.

It defines the SDU as an institutional framework for execution of functions of national government including functions of the police service under this act and in any other written law.

“This simply means that the services of police officers in each of the service delivery units of the national government, which are the former provincial administration structures, will be controlled by the successors of the provincial administration from county commissioner to sub-chief,” Mr Kiprono says.

He notes that the control of the police regardless of rank could be even lower – the village elders.

“This is based on the fact that the Act provides that any other national government administrative officer in respect of a service delivery unit can be appointed as a national government administration officer,” he says.

SUB-LOCATIONS

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