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Protecting Rights in Kenya


People fall as police fire tear gas to try control a crowd trying to force their way into a stadium to attend the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta. (File)

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec urged security forces to safeguard the rights of citizens and protect life by showing maximum restraint in interactions with the public.

Protecting Rights in Kenya
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U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec urged security forces to safeguard the rights of citizens and protect life by showing maximum restraint in interactions with the public.

Speaking at an event organized by Kenya’s Independent Police Oversight Authority, or IPOA, in Nairobi, Ambassador Godec said, “Human rights abuses, to include by the police, occur in all countries, including the United States. What is important is that when there is a report of police abuse, it be thoroughly and independently investigated. And when law enforcement officers, and as appropriate even superiors, have perpetrated a crime, they should face justice.”

“No one is above the law,” he said. “No one should protect an individual who has committed abuses just because that person wears a uniform. Everyone has the duty to uphold human rights and to ensure the rule of law prevails.”

The Ambassador’s remarks were made at the launch of Independent Police Oversight Authority’s “IPOAcloud CONNECT -– a complaint management system funded by the U.S. to the tune of Sh650 million. The project has been under trials since April 3, 2017. It was designed and built by a U.S. firm – INFO Gains Division of Dominion Energy.

Together with the Government of Kenya, the United States has been deeply engaged in developing accountability in the Kenyan police services, assisting in the work of IPOA. The United States has supported technical experts who have helped IPOA develop its operating procedures including setting up IPOA’s investigations unit and training its officers.

Ambassador Godec noted that even though IPOA is still young, it has proven itself able to investigate allegations against police for using excessive force and to bring cases to court when appropriate.

Ambassador Godec said IPOA’s mandate to investigate allegations of abuses at the hands of police was of particular significance during the recent elections but was even more critical now when Kenya is confronted daily by unexplained killings, police abuse, and corruption.

The Ambassador stressed the majority of Kenya’s police are carrying out their duties with courage and professionalism.

“Security is essential for every society’s prosperity and quality of life,” he said. “We all need the police. The security services protect us from crime, terrorism, and other dangers that threaten us.”

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