Constitutional expert Yash Pal Ghai has asked the National Police Service to free itself from state bondage and exert its constitutional independence.
He said the police is not an extension of the state since they derive their power and authority from the people and the constitution.
“The police are no longer under the absolute authority of the government, their independence being a fundamental constitutional principle,” Prof Ghai, director of Katiba Institute, said.
He said the force should be alarmed about the waning trust between them and citizens.
“Police are regarded by the public as suppressing them in order to promote the interest of the rich and powerful. They are regarded as extremely corrupt, especially in extracting money from the poor,” he said.
He said the constitution has secured the place of the police and other state security agencies with a special focus on the protection of human rights and maintaining law and order.
Ghai made the comments even as police came under sharp criticism for alleged violations of human rights by use of “excessive and unnecessary” force against anti-IEBC protesters on Monday, May 16.
“The relationship between the police and the public goes back to the colonial period when the primary purpose of the police was to suppress Africans in the interests of colonial power and European settlers,” he said.
Ghai spoke on Tuesday during the launch of a handbook titled “101 Things You Wanted To Know About the Police and Were Too Afraid To Ask” .
The booklet, published by the Katiba Institute and the Commonwealth Human Rights Institute with support from the Danish Embassy in Kenya, seeks to educate the police of their rights and responsibilities as they perform their duties.
The book is approved by the National Police Service Commission and the Independent Police Oversight Authority.
Speaking at the forum, Danish ambassador to Kenya Mette Knudsen said lawful assembly of citizens must be protected.
She said as the country edges closer to the 2017 polls, all stakeholders must be satisfied that the election “will not only be free, fair but peaceful”.
Tom Kagwe of IPOA condemned the manner the police dealt with protesters during the Monday’s demonstration.
He said investigations into the alleged brutality is ongoing.