Ambassador Robert F. Godec Remarks for the Launch of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Strategic Plan

The Honorable Justice Philip Ransley; Inspector General Kimaiyo; Representatives of the Ministry of Interior, National Police Service Commission, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution; Macharia Njeru, Chairman of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority; IPOA board members; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority for inviting me here today for the launch of your strategic plan, and for allowing me to offer my congratulations on this important achievement.

IPOA, Kenya’s very first civilian policing oversight agency, has a wide-ranging mandate that includes the essential job of investigating allegations of death and serious injury at the hands of police.  IPOA’s job is critically important at a time when Kenya is grappling with many reports of police abuse and corruption.

We have all seen recently the accusations against the police in human rights reporting, as well as in IPOA’s own first monitoring and inspections report in July

on Operation Usalama Watch.

The United States urges that Kenya take these allegations seriously and investigate them fully.  Kenya is up to the challenge of doing this, of being self-critical, and of looking at problems to find a way to fix them.  The very existence of IPOA is a mark of the change that Kenya is undergoing; it represents the values enshrined in its constitution, and embodies the culture of accountability, respect for human rights, and integrity that Kenya is working to usher in.

As we all know, security is vital for prosperity and vital to achieving the goals of Vision 2030.  Kenya’s security is being challenged right now by terrorists – by al-Shabaab and its sympathizers – who are bent on perpetrating violence.  I, along with all my fellow Americans and many others across the world, know the pain of terrorism all too well.  We remember it vividly on days such as today, the 13th anniversary of 9/11, when America weathered the worst terrorist attack in its history in New York, Washington D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania.

And in just ten days’ time, we will all mark one year since the horrifying attack at Westgate Mall here in Nairobi.  On that day, we saw very brave police officers rush into the mall and save hundreds of lives in those first few terrifying hours.

We will always be thankful for their courage and for the courage of all of the security officers who helped bring the siege to an end.

As we saw during Westgate, the police are an integral part of maintaining security

in Kenya.  They do that by being alert to criminal activity, by using their skills

to track down perpetrators of crime, and by maintaining their integrity while doing their jobs.

The majority of police, I know, do their job well.  They do it with courage,

commitment, and integrity.  But there are exceptions, in Kenya, in the United States, and elsewhere.  Undisciplined behavior – including harassment, extortion, and the excessive use of force – have no place in policing in Kenya, or anywhere.  They only contribute to violence – they don’t stop or reduce it.  In the fight against terrorism, in particular, such illegal actions can aid the terrorists in their efforts to recruit new members.  It is essential that the police win the trust of the community.

IPOA exists as a safeguard against police misconduct.  IPOA exists to advance and strengthen respect for human rights. We support them in this endeavor, and we applaud their work.  We know the Government of Kenya does so as well.

For over two years now, the United States has been deeply engaged in developing accountability in the Kenyan police services, and specifically in supporting the establishment of IPOA.  The United States has supported technical experts who have helped IPOA hone its mandate and develop its operating procedures.  Also through technical advice, we have helped set up IPOA’s investigations unit and have trained its officers on crime scene management.  This very week, two instructors from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation are teaching the valuable skills of interviewing and interrogation to thirty of IPOA’s officers, from the investigations department, monitoring and inspections, and complaints intake.

With direct support, we have helped IPOA finish its offices, construct its website, and draft one of the first baseline surveys about Kenyans’ attitudes toward police.  We have also donated forensic equipment to IPOA’s investigative unit so its investigators can have the necessary tools to look into the complaints they receive

about alleged police misconduct.  All told, we have contributed approximately KSH 100 million to assist IPOA in its work. We will continue to offer this kind of assistance to IPOA in support of its critical efforts to end impunity in Kenya

and make the National Police Service even stronger than it already is.  Together,

we can bring a new level of accountability to the vital work of the police in addressing insecurity in Kenya.

Thank you again for including the United States on this important day,

and Pongezi Kubwa on the launch of your strategic plan. Asanteni Sana.