Deepening police reforms in Kenya post-National Accord: Policy implications

While police reforms in Kenya date back to 2003, the strongest impetus for reform came after tragic events of post-election violence in 2007–08. The Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence found that the police had committed widespread and serious human rights violations. Kenya’s National Accord and Reconciliation Act, signed in 2008 to bring an end to the violence, ushered in a new period of wide-reaching reforms. Kenya’s new rights-based constitution of 2010 and the legislative framework that followed were intended to facilitate a transition to a new people-focused policing paradigm.

This briefing paper analyses the progress of police reform processes in Kenya undertaken since the signing of the National Accord and provides recommendations to consolidate and sustain the ongoing reforms. The briefing focuses on several current issues facing the police, including modern policing approaches, operational independence, police accountability, police-civilian relations and police welfare. It also looks at the impact of devolution on policing. Recommendations target various state and non-state actors in Kenya, including the National Police Service, the National Police Service Commission, Independent Policing Oversight Authority, the National Crime Research Centre, the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, the Salaries Review Commission, civil society actors (for example, the Police Reforms Working Group) and research institutions.

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“Good police-civilian relations create the conditions for effective partnerships to evolve between the police and the public, enabling both to understand each other’s roles and expectations.”

Mikewa Ogada