The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) provides for civilian oversight over the work of the police in Kenya. The Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act established IPOA in 2011.
The Act also provides for the functions and powers of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.
The headquarters of the Authority are in Nairobi. However, it should devolve its services to the counties according to Article 6 of the Constitution.
Functions of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA)
The functions of Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) are in Section 6 of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act.
1To investigate deaths and serious injuries caused by police action
IPOA investigates deaths and serious injuries arising from police action. Thereafter, it recommends disciplinary action or prosecution. This aims at preventing impunity and enhancing accountability within the National Police Service.
2To investigate police misconduct
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority receives complaints from members of the public on police misconduct. It then undertakes independent investigations.
The Authority also receives complaints from police officers against fellow officers.
IPOA can initiate investigations on its own motion. It may refer cases to appropriate bodies, including seeking the court’s intervention to have its recommendations implemented.
3To monitor, review and audit investigations and actions by Internal Affairs Unit of the police
IPOA oversees the work of the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) of the police. It plays this role to verify independently that the internal police system deals with complaints against officers fairly and effectively.
IPOA should keep a record of all such complaints regardless of where they have been first reported and what action has been taken.
The Authority can take over investigations if not satisfied with IAU’s intervention.
4To conduct inspections of police premises
This seeks to ensure that:
- police premises meet basic predefined standards, and
- that treatment of suspects and detainees is in line with the principles laid down in the Constitution.
Police premises include police stations and police posts, detention facilities and officers’ residential areas. IPOA prepares inspection reports and shares them with the relevant Authorities.
5To monitor and investigate policing operations and deployment
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority scrutinises independently policing operations affecting members of the public. IPOA plays this role to ensure policing is conducted for the benefit of the people of Kenya.
Where it detects the excessive use of force and abuse of power, it recommends independent investigations and remedial action.
6To review the functioning of the internal disciplinary process
The Authority monitors internal police disciplinary processes to ensure fairness and effectiveness.
It may conduct surveys to assess improvement in police internal accountability mechanisms.
7Reporting on its activities
The law mandates the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to prepare a performance report every six months and an annual report. The report should:
- inform the public on IPOA activities, and
- provide recommendations for improvement of the functioning of the National Police Service.
Subject to the Constitution and the laws related to freedom of information, IPOA should publish findings of its investigations, monitoring, reviews, and audits as it sees fit, including by means of the electronic or printed media.
8To open its services to the public
IPOA should take all reasonable steps to facilitate access to the Authority’s services to the public.
9To make recommendations
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority should make recommendations to the National Police Service or any State organ.
10Cooperate with other institutions
It should also co-operate with other institutions on issues of Police oversight, including other State organs in relation to the services they offer.
11Present information to the court
IPOA should present any information it deems appropriate to an inquest conducted by a court of law.
Independence of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA)
IPOA should operate independently. It should not be subject to any person, office, or authority.
The Authority should observe the principle of impartiality and rules of natural
justice when exercising its powers and performing its functions.
Every Government officer or institution should accord the Authority such assistance and protection as may be necessary to ensure its independence, impartiality, dignity, and effectiveness.
No person or body should interfere with the decision making, functioning or operations of the Authority.
Lastly, Parliament should ensure that the funding for the Independent Policing Oversight Authority is adequate. This will ensure it performs all its functions effectively and efficiently.
The Objectives of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA)
The objectives of the Authority are to—
- hold the Police accountable to the public while performing their functions;
- give effect to the provision of Article 244 of the Constitution that the Police shall strive for professionalism and discipline and shall promote and practice transparency and accountability; and
- ensure independent oversight of the handling of complaints by the Service.
For the powers of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), see section 7 of the IPOA Act here.
For more about the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), visit their website at ipoa.go.ke.