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>> Kenya has a troubled history with police brutality. The issue came to the fore once again last year when a six-month old baby and her parents were beaten in their homes. The baby died of head wounds after a police officer struck her during operations to put down unrest after elections.
I'm Maggie Fick, Reuters' deputy bureau of chief for East Africa and Nairobi. Since the baby's death in August, Reuters' has been investigating a reform agency funded in part by Western governments to tackle police impunity. We found that the watchdog, which goes by the name IPOA, is facing huge challenges that is making it impossible to do its work properly.
IPOA was set up in 2011. Several years after police killed hundreds following disputed elections in 2007. The watchdog has a strong mandate. It is empowered to investigate alleged police abuse by conducting investigations where it can summon police officers, search crime scenes, or even police stations, and seize evidence.
In practice, however, the watchdog is up against a big challenge, cooperation from the police themselves. A Kenyan rights organization said a total of 92 people were killed during election related violence last year. We learned in our reporting that the police frequently ignore the law requiring them to notify the watchdog every time a death or injury is caused by the police.
Another challenge is Kenya's glacial court system, where cases can drag out for years. Police often dismiss claims that they have acted brutally and unlawfully by saying that they only target thieves and thugs. That goes against the testimony we collected from families, like the baby's family, and from the mother of a British man, Alexander Monson, who died in police custody on the Kenyan coast in 2012.
The United States is a major donor to police reform in Kenya. It has given $8 million to IPOA since 2011. But it is provided at least $300 million in assistance to Kenya's military over the same period. Our study of Kenya's police watchdog reflects a broader global issue. Whether western nations can encourage accountability of security forces and allies whose assistance they require in combating threats such as terrorism.