Police Brutality and Its Effects on the Contemporary Society in Kenya

Updated February 4, 2021

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Police Brutality and Its Effects on the Contemporary Society in Kenya essay

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Police brutality is the independent variable in this paper and can be termed as the use of excessive force by the police.

Kenyan society are the dependent variable since they are the group that are being affected by the acts if the independent variable.

Background to the Study

Now more than ever the legacies of Black activists like Dr. Martin Luther King need to be preserved for their fight against police brutality. In the recent years police brutality has been in the public domain. There has been a significant increase of police brutality over the past couple of years. It has been a way for those who have privilege to show dominance.

Globally we find out that police brutality has been registered in different parts of the world. Different campaigns have been held all over due to these case. The Birmingham Campaigns of 1963 was considered as one of the most influential campaigns of the civil rights movements. This movement was held in the United States of America (USA).Most of these movements majorly are because of racial discrimination especially the Black African Americans, which is more escalated by the pressure subjected by the police mostly in states that have a high rate of racial discrimination. This was seen in the Detroit Wars of 1962 (USA) where there was a blood bath of both black and white races which was escalated by how the police became violent towards the African Americans.

The African continent has not been left behind in the fight against police brutality. The war on police brutality has been fought greatly by civil right groups and journalists. Journalists have at time found themselves at the mercy of the police where they have been brutally been beaten, tortured, which is against article 29 (d) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and arrested for reporting news that has offended a specific group of people. The police have also abused the authority of using excessive or unnecessary force and have over used their authority in the most inhuman way. A case was recorded in South Africa in 2013 where South African Policemen tied a Mozambican national to the back of a police van and dragged him 40 meters to his death.

The East African region has also had its own share of Police brutality cases. As stated earlier about the scenario of the policemen harassing journalists over what not to cover was seen in Uganda whereby journalists who were reporting outside the home of the opposition leader Kizza Besigye were arrested while they were still reporting and taken to an unknown destination and location. They later reported that they were beaten, pushed and some of them had their hair pulled while still in custody.

The 2017 Kenyan election has been rooted with very many cases of police brutality registered. The Kenyan police on many occasions have been accused of using excessive force to the extent of lives of innocent civilians being lost. An example was seen of Baby Pendo who lost her life over the use of force of the police yet she was not even of age to even cause or bring harm to anyone. The police fired teargas and repeatedly clubbed Pendo’s father, and in the melee an officer struck the baby on the head, said Lenzer Achieng, her mother. The police left without arresting anyone; days later, Pendo died from her injuries.

The baby’s death outraged a nation long hardened to police brutality. Even the national police chief, who has often publicly rejected allegations of police abuse, vowed to investigate. Yet three months later, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), a body created to hold the police to account, said it could not identify any policeman suspected of killing Pendo. Over the years there were cases of police brutality registered but because it was a dictatorship government very few people had the chance to complain against it but with the establishment of the new constitution 2010 Chapter four has established a forum of bill of rights and in them it explains how the police are to handle a suspect and it does not mention the use of violence. This is to explain that violence being implored by the police upon the citizens is to be deemed extremely unconstitutional and against ethical and profession conduct.

In Kenya specific areas have been worst hit when it comes to police brutality cases. Western parts of Kenya have been hit greatly with policemen being swarm in specific towns in Western Kenya to terrorize the local communities. Several cases have been reported to IPOA (Independent policing oversight Authority).They have worked with locals to try and curb police brutality within the local community with minimal success rates as the victims usually fear to be victimised on their testimony because most of them do not know or understand that they have individual rights.

Statement of the Problem

The Kenya Police force has over the years been a symbol of security and peace to the citizens, with the motto “Utumishi kwa Wote”. However, this is quite the contrary. They have ensured that on several occasions they arrest suspects who are taken to court according to article 49 of the constitution in order for them to face the law justly without fear. By the law the police have the right to use legitimate force if necessary to make arrests and maintain order. The main question is how much force is too much force? The law is too silent on this aspect of excess police force.

There has been an increase in cases of police brutality in Kenya recently and has been significantly rising. The same people who we are to feel safe and have given the common mwananchi that sense of security have now become the people who we run away from due to fear of being hurt. Many Kenyans have been reported dead from the brutality of the police officers and their families are now trying to work with IPOA to get justice for the affected people.

Research Questions

The Questions I seek to answer include:

  • What is the concept one understands when referring to police brutality?
  • What laws are in place that outlaws or prohibits police brutality? What laws are in place to govern police conduct when on duty?
  • How does police brutality affect the society?
  • Is harsh harassment allowed by the police in maintaining law and order?
  • What are the impacts of the property destruction to the society as a result of police brutality?

Research Objectives

The study aims at achieving a number of objectives;

  • To fully understand the wide broad concept of police brutality and how it can be tackled.
  • To know who are the major categories of people affected by police brutality.
  • To identify the causes and effects of police brutality on Kenyan Society.
  • To identify the legal instruments and institutions that exist and to what extent they are effective at protecting the victims and witnesses of police brutality.
  • To compare especially in Africa the rates of police brutality, the challenges and success rates at curbing police brutality.
  • To recommend the best ways of curbing the problem of modern day police brutality.

Justification of the Study

This study can be justified on many grounds, some of which are outlined below.

There have been so many public complaints through local and international media about police brutality among police officers in Kenya. Perhaps, we condemn them without knowing the problems they face. This study is meant to enlighten Kenyans on the police brutality and how it impacts on the society. Kenyan police have been working under poor conditions. In the light of this, the study attempts to establish how police working environment has affected performance of individual officers and how this has led to the cruelty. Police officers have found themselves standing accused of unimaginable atrocities in the dock of public opinion probably because little is known about them. Accusations and criticisms can be formidable sources of negative reactions.

The role of the police in Kenya should go through a transformation to reflect the economic, social and technological changes in the community and the assertion of individual rights within a democracy. A light thrown on the link between stress and police work performance will inform policy on what needs to be done to revamp the Kenya police force and give it a new face. The police reform process will quickly lose legitimacy unless it incorporates measures which will improve police health, morale and public confidence. It is important to improve the welfare of the police force with speed since they play a critical role in ensuring that there is enough security for economic growth. Security is paramount in guaranteeing the generation of wealth. This will provide equal opportunities for our people and hence check crime. Bruce, (2003), asserts that improvement in public respect and attitude linked to improvement in the service provided to the public, will also contribute to improving police morale.

This study will further attempt to enlighten Kenyans on the needs of the police force and especially how they can be helped to deal with their problems. The spiralling crime rate has emphasized the forces’ inability to deal with the situation and highlighted the need to address its problems. It is true the police are inadequately equipped but providing them with better guns and more vehicles will not make them better policemen as most policy makers may want to belief. Guns do not deter crime, but people do! A disciplined force will earn respect from the community and community cooperation will be a reality. As once written in the Nation Editorial, January 2001; a professional force will earn the confidence of the people, who will not need any prompting (read bribe – commonly known as kitu kidogo) to assist in combating crime.

Probably there are other factors, in the eyes of the police officers, that are contributing to poor work performance. All people of Kenya should start loving, appreciating, and encouraging those in the police force since such love, care and encouragement will no doubt be rewarded with similar responses. However, people may find it difficult to appreciate police officers whom they do not know or understand. Through this study more information about the police would be available to the public.

There is little work that has been done on police in Kenya. This study is meant to add knowledge to what is already there, especially in the area of intervention and support for stressed police officers. That is, the study results will address existing knowledge gaps. The police managers must be knowledgeable and well prepared if the problem of stress is to be addressed properly.


Laws on the protection of persons from police brutality globally, regionally and domestically are insufficient and therefore not effective in protecting people who fall as victims to such abuse and exploitation. Therefore there is the urgency to call forth the organizations and governments to pay special attention to the vulnerability of individuals prone to fall as victims to police brutality and look for preventive measures so as to ensure the wellbeing and development of the society. Well, unfortunately this paragraph does not portray what is a hypothesis! The question is: To your mind, what is a hypothesis? Answer that question by looking it up so you know for certain what is a hypothesis. Otherwise as stated, there is no hypothesis at all.

Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study looks at the issue of occupational police brutality, causes, consequences and practical interventions among police officers in Kenya. The study focused on police men and women in the police force operating within Kenya. This was limiting because the police offer national services touching on national security from village level, district to county level up to the National level. It was not possible to cover all these other areas due to logistical constraints and lack of funds for a study of that magnitude. This is out right dubious! You haven’t commenced your own research but claim that it wasn’t possible to cover the whole country!! Do you really have the resources to carry out an empirical research of this magnitude even in Nairobi alone?

Literature Review

There are various factors which have been spelled out to cause or bring out police brutality. They are discussed below:

  • Ethnicity: Ethnicity and police brutality in Kenya is said to correlate in that there have been instances where the police have been seen to use excessive force on specific regions within the country unlike regions. A known case is seen during the election with the hash tag Luo matters matter where police were using excessive force on the luo community as compared to other communities in the country.
  • Political influence: Political influence has also been among the key factors causing police brutality due to the political party and ones position in power. The order of use lethal force may come as a directive from those in power to the police who in turn are to obey the orders.
  • Poor training of police: The police are required to be trained on how to handle the common mwanchi in order to avoid police brutality cases. The police should be trained on how to handle different groups of people so as to avoid cases of seeing minors losing their lives due to the negligence of the police force.

For purposes of literature review, please note that the meaning is this: You pick some of the articles and books which have been written on your topic of research and read them closely. You note the links between them and your research topic. You highlight the nexus between them and your research topic. I expect that you give the names of such articles/books and give a brief review of what it is about and how that particular article directly relates to your research.

Police Brutality and Its Effects on the Contemporary Society in Kenya essay

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Police Brutality and Its Effects on the Contemporary Society in Kenya. (2020, Nov 12). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/police-brutality-and-its-effects-on-the-contemporary-society-in-kenya/


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