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Police Abuse Of Power in Kenya

In many places, police not only fail to protect vulnerable people from violence, but they are violent predators themselves. IJM is working in Kenya to end police abuse of power.

In Kenya, police officers can abuse their positions by taking advantage of the people they have taken oath to serve and protect. While most police officers take their pledge seriously in many instances, police not only fail to protect vulnerable people from violence but are perpetrators themselves.

Without a lawyer, the innocent person will often wait years for freedom. In the case of extrajudicial killings, surviving family members have started speaking out, demanding an investigation and the delivery of justice. For years, police could expect to get away with these crimes.

The Facts
  • 1 in 3 people in Kenya experienced police abuse or harassment in the last year. [1]
  • Every year, about 10 million people worldwide enter pre-trial detention—held in prison without any proceedings to determine their guilt or innocence. [2]
  • In nearly 2 out of every 3 felony cases, police never gathered enough evidence to charge an alleged offender. [3]

[1] Kenya's Independent Policing Oversight Authority

[2] Open Society Foundations

[3] IPOA

Understand The Issue
Arbitrary Arrest & Detention

In many communities in the developing world, the police can detain suspects in jail with virtually no evidence. In these circumstances, it is easy for officers to frame vulnerable people who may have limited formal education in order to conclude investigations quickly. Vulnerable people can be imprisoned on the basis of a mere accusation, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even for being unable to pay a bribe to a corrupt officer.

Without an advocate, victims of false imprisonment can waste away in jail for years of their life—in fact, experts have identified cases in which Kenyan prisoners have been detained up to 17 years before receiving a trial.[4] Court proceedings are often held in official languages—a language the falsely accused person may not speak or understand—and translators are not provided.

For a family struggling in poverty, imprisonment of an innocent breadwinner means that necessities like food, education, shelter, clothing and medicine can slip out of reach. They may be forced to relocate to even more insecure housing, or take their children out of school to work, all because they cannot afford the fees. Most families cannot afford to even visit their loved ones in prison.

Police Brutality

In many places in the world, “torture remains a routine part of police work to extract confessions or other information from suspects who refuse to ‘cooperate.’” [5]

With insufficient training on professional methods of investigation and virtually no accountability for bad police, corrupt police can physically assault and even murder without suffering consequences. The terrifying result is that billions of the poorest people live in communities in which the police not only fail to protect them from violent predators, but where the police themselves become violent predators.

Our Response
IJM combats police abuse of power in Nairobi, Kenya.

We identify innocent men and women detained without evidence, investigate the case to prove their innocence, and represent them in court to secure their freedom and an acquittal of the false charges against them.

We collaborate with government investigative agencies to prosecute abusive police.

We provide ongoing care to the victim and his family while he is imprisoned, and develop a re-integration plan for self-sufficiency in freedom.

We provide hands-on training and mentoring for police and other officials, and support the government in strengthening the legal safeguards that protect innocent people.

“When I walked into court and saw my lawyer ready to advocate for me, my heart was happy and felt at ease.”

Joseph Declared innocent after being wrongfully accused and imprisoned for 16 months by Kenyan police

Since 2001, IJM has helped free 256 women and men from illegal detention in Kenya.

Help victims of police abuse in Kenya.

You can send help to those wrongfully imprisoned.

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More Information

Petra Kooman

Director of Marketing and Public Relations
519.679.5030 x.229

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