Cablegate: Police Reform Task Force Previews Its

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1. On November 11, three members of the Police Reform
Task Force (PRTF) briefed members of the diplomatic corps
on the Task Force's unanimous recommendations to the
Government of Kenya. Carrying an estimated price tag of
81.4 billion Kenyan shillings (approximately $1.1
billion) over the next three years, the recommended
reforms would create effective police oversight; improve
performance, community relations, and conditions of
service; reduce corruption; and clarify roles and
responsibilities among different police organizations.
The 300-page report is scheduled for a Cabinet review on
November 19, after which the report should be made
public. According to the Task Force's Vice Chair, the
first real test of the Government's commitment to the
police reform process will be whether President Kibaki
uses his executive power to immediately establish Police
Reform Implementation Commission (PRIC), which would be
responsible for monitoring implementation of the
recommended reforms. END SUMMARY.

2. On November 11, the British High Commission invited
like-minded diplomatic missions to a briefing by three
members of the PRTF on the group's recommendations to the
Government of Kenya. PRTF's South African Vice Chair,
Peter Gastrow, led the briefing. (Note: The British
Government provided significant funding for this effort.
End note.)

3. Gastrow began the brief by noting that the report,
which is approximately 300 pages long and contains over
200 recommendations, was agreed to by all 18 members of
the Task Force, and that this level of consensus was by
no means a given.

Major Recommendations

4. Perhaps the most controversial issue on the police
reform agenda has been the recommendation (originating
from the Waki Commission) that the Kenya Police Force and
the Administration Police be combined. The PRTF agreed
that something needed to be done to mitigate the
unhealthy, destabilizing competition and functional
overlap that has arisen between the two organizations but
concluded that merging the two bodies ahead of the 2012
elections would be too destabilizing. (See, for example,
ref C.) They recommended instead the creation of a
National Policing Council (NPC) that would be composed of
the Kenya Police Force, Administration Police, Criminal
Investigation Division, General Services Unit, and
Provincial Commissioners to coordinate police activities
and set policy. The NPC would also set common standards,
oversee common budget and procurement processes, and
ensure training facilities are shared.

5. Similar to ideas surrounding constitutional reform,
the PRTF recommended devolution of power to the
provincial level. The status quo, in which all decisions
regarding police policy, operations, and budgeting are
made in Nairobi, discourages local responsibility and
creates an environment in which illegal orders are
followed without question, the PRTF concluded.

6. The PRTF also recommended establishing two feedback
mechanisms for the public, both to air grievances and set
local priorities for police actions (e.g., combating
drugs in Coast Province, dealing effectively with the
Mungiki criminal gang in Central Province, responding to
livestock rustling in pastoral areas, etc.). One of
these bodies would be the Provincial Police Authority,
which would be composed of nine civilians and would
oversee the provincially-managed police budget and help
set police priorities for their province. The other body
would be the Independent Police Oversight Authority,
which would also be composed of civilians and have the
power to subpoena and investigate allegations of police

7. To control the rampant corruption in the police force,

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the PRTF recommended the creation of a code of conduct
that would include eliminating police conflicts of
interest (e.g., officers who have financial links to the
transport industry). They also recommended that the
police recruitment process be made more transparent and
competitive to eliminate the current patronage/bribery
network that police recruit hopefuls must navigate to
secure jobs. (Note: Gastrow noted that Minister of
Internal Security George Saitoti had already agreed to
freeze recruitments for the rest of the year so that the
mechanisms can be put in place to make the process more
transparent. End note.)

8. Poor conditions of service (for example, poor living
conditions and medical treatment, low salaries and non-
payment of allowances) must be fixed to improve police
morale, which is abysmally low, the PRTF said. (Note:
Gastrow noted that Saitoti intends to commit the 500
million Kenyan shillings (approximately $7 million) saved
by the recruitment freeze to pay arrears in allowances
owed to police officers. End note.)

9. Police leadership and specialized units, such as the
Criminal Investigations Division, need to have the
necessary skills and commitment to perform their jobs.
To this end, the PRTF recommended that all senior police
leaders be subjected to a suitability review.
Unqualified officers would be transferred or let go (with
a severance package) while those remaining would have
opportunities to participate in foreign exchange


10. Cabinet is scheduled to review the PRTF's report at
its weekly meeting on November 19. Gastrow said that the
next step will be for the Government to make the report
public and decide how much of the report they will
accept. After that it is up to parliament to implement
the necessary legislation, a process that will take
approximately four months, he said.

11. Implementation of recommended reforms has always been
a challenge in Kenya, Gastrow admitted, and police reform
would be no different. To guarantee follow-through, the
PRTF is recommending the immediate formation of a Police
Reform Implementation Commission (PRIC). The PRIC would
include international and domestic police reform experts,
Permanent Secretaries from relevant Government
ministries, and civil society actors such as the Kenya
Human Rights Commission and the Law Reform Commission.
The PRIC would have a two-year mandate to monitor the
implementation of the report's recommendations. Gastrow
said that in his discussions with Francis Kimemia, the
Permanent Secretary of Internal Security, Kimemia assured
him that the PRIC could be established within one week of
the November 19 Cabinet meeting. PRTF member Mohamud
Saleh said that President Kibaki can establish the PRIC
immediately by using the authority of Section 23 of
Kenya's constitution. (Note: This section gives the
President ''executive authority.'' End note.)

12. Other recommended reforms, such as the creation of
the Independent Police Oversight Authority, are better
left to the constitutional reform and legislative process
and not executive orders. This will necessarily take
longer, Gastrow said.

13. The PRTF is estimating that the reform package will
cost approximately 81.4 billion Kenyan Shillings
(approximately $1.1 billion) between 2010 and 2013. Of
that, Saitoti estimated that the Government would be able
to fund half of that amount. The PRTF representatives
made a clear pitch to the assembled diplomats that donor
assistance would be required to make up the difference.


14. Police reform is a critical component of Kenya's
reform agenda and could become one of the determining
factors for the country's continued stability. The first
indicators of the Government?s good faith intentions will
be how the cabinet handles its review, whether the PRTF's

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full report is released to the public, and if the
Government does move forward within the next few weeks to
establish an oversight mechanism for reform

15. While we understand the PRTF's position on the need
for both internal and external oversight mechanisms to be
established via constitutional reform, we are concerned
that, without these mechanisms, other efforts to combat
corruption and human rights abuses by the security forces
will not be fruitful. We also note that the external
civilian oversight mechanism as described by the PRTF
will apparently rely on the Attorney General's office to
initiate prosecutions against police officers who commit
criminal acts, which raises concerns that, as with the
Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, such cases will not be
acted on. This could lead to continued impunity and
increasing public cynicism.

16. On October 22, the Ambassador met with Minister for
Internal Security Saitoti and his senior security team
(see ref A) to urge them to move forward on police
reform, including especially establishing independent and
credible police oversight mechanisms. We will continue to
engage with our Kenyan and diplomatic counterparts on the
contents of the KPRC report and provide recommendations
septel on the possible way forward and requests for
specific support for police reform.


© Scoop Media

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