Election violence: Kenya’s police monitor completes investigations

Nairobi   –       Kenya’s police monitor said on Monday investigations into the alleged killings by police of a girl and a baby in election-related violence had been completed.

Kenyan police frequently face accusations of brutality and extrajudicial killings from civilians and rights groups, but officers are rarely charged and almost never convicted.

Human rights groups say at least 66 people have died in bloodshed associated with the August election, which was later voided by the Supreme Court, and in unrest surrounding the re-run of the presidential vote last month.

Stephanie Moraa, an eight-year-old girl in the Nairobi slum of Mathare, died after being hit by a stray bullet as police fired to disperse protesters on Aug. 12, the day after election results were announced.

The parents of six-month-old Samantha Pendo said she was teargassed and clubbed by police who invaded their home in Kisumu looking for protesters.

On Monday, the government-funded but civilian-run Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) said it had forwarded its findings and recommendations to the director of public prosecutions “for review and direction”.

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Asked on Monday what IPOA had recommended to the prosecutor’s office regarding the two deaths, spokesman Dennis Oketch said: “It’s a matter which will most likely end up in court.

“We don’t want to give any information that can become prejudicial. We will wait for the [prosecutor‘s] review.”

IPOA’s statement did not specify if it had identified suspects in the two deaths.

It did not mention any other investigations into election-related violence.

It has however, completed another investigation into alleged police beatings at a demonstration in September at Kenya’s oldest university that sparked opposition anger at what they see as a pattern of police brutality.

IPOA said it had recommended to a police service commission that it take “stern disciplinary action against the responsible Commander”.

It had also forwarded the investigation file to the prosecutor’s office, the statement read.

Shortly after the August election, IPOA said it was fast-tracking investigations of all deaths and injuries for which the police were alleged by rights groups to be responsible.

Kenyan police dispute those accounts.

The National Police Service described a report in October by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on 33 deaths in Nairobi during the crackdown as “totally misleading and based on falsehoods”.

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Inspite of its history of police brutality, Kenya is an economic and transport hub in East Africa and important Western ally against militant Islam that receives substantial financial support for its security services from international donors, including the United States and Britain.

The IPOA was set up in 2011 after the killings of around 1,200 people in violence following the disputed 2007 election.

It has received more than 9,000 complaints of police brutality and corruption since then.

Last year, it secured its first conviction, of two police officers sentenced for the death of a 14-year-old girl shot dead during a house raid in 2014.

A survey in 2016 by the non-profit International Police Science Association ranked Kenya’s police force as the 125th worst-performing out of 127 national police forces studied.

Only forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria did worse, measured on factors such as “process” and “legitimacy.”

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