Participation and inclusion in police reforms in Kenya: Opportunities and challenges since 2008

Police reforms which include and encourage civil society participation can help build trust and accountability between police and the communities they serve. Police reform processes in Kenya have sought to be more inclusive and participatory following post-election violence in 2007.

This briefing examines the role of participation and inclusion in Kenyan police reform following the National Accord and Reconciliation Act in 2008. The briefing makes the case that reform initiatives arising from the National Accord were inclusive and allowed actors from civil society, the private sector and faith-based organisations, as well as ordinary citizens to participate, resulting in a solid legal and policy framework for civilian oversight of policing agencies.

However vested interests, both of the political elite and the police force, have not always favoured greater participation and inclusion. This briefing outlines and analyses the extent of inclusion and participation in police reform since 2008. In particular it examines opportunities for greater inclusion through commitment to devolution, as well as the role that civil society has played in reforms.

Processes that established the agenda for police reform in Kenya – from the National Accord and through the commissions of Waki, Ransley and Police Reform Implementation Committee – provided a concrete foundation for structured, legitimate citizen participation and engagement in policing. This was achieved through extensive civil society participation in these processes, as well as direct public engagement. This has since led to the creation of several institutions that enshrined principles of civilian oversight and public participation.

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“Police services need to be well-resourced and highly efficient, as well as transparent and accountable to the highest constitutional and policing standards.”

Florence Simbiri-Jaoko