Holding police accountable for extrajudicial killings in Kenya

A group of Kenyan men with their fists raised stands in front of a building, holding a sign that says Mathare Social Justice Centre

Photo via The Daily Nation

The Associated Press recently ran a good article on the Social Justice Centres Working Group, an association of neighborhood-based social justice centers across Nairobi.  The article highlights the work that the centers do to document extrajudicial killings by the police.  For example, the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) published a 2017 report documenting over 800 killings of young men by police officers from 2013 – 2015.

MSJC regularly contacts Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) with evidence of these killings.  (Indeed, within Mathare it’s well known that just a few officers are responsible for much of this violence.)  However, as of last year, IPOA had secured only two convictions out of more than 9000 complaints received.  Activists at MSJC and other justice centers have also faced threats for speaking up from the officers they are reporting.

If anyone has recommended reading on the political economy of urban policing in Kenya, or on successful police reform elsewhere to reduce abuses of power, I’d be quite interested hearing about it.

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