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Why Police and Journalists in Kenya are Strange Bedfellows

A Kenya police officer caught on camera on Friday evening brutalizing a Nation Media Group cameraman going about his duties at the Likoni Channel ahead of the beginning of the dusk to dawn curfew announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, has raised many unanswered questions about the much taunted professionalization of the National Police Service.

That a sane officer can like a savage attack somebody listed in among the cadres of workers engaged in provision of essential services and thus exempted from the curfew, is yet another confirmation that you can remove a monkey from the forest but the forest in the monkey will remain intact.

Change of name from Kenya Police Force to Kenya Police Service, Administration Police to Administration Police Service and change of uniforms among other drastic changes, have apparently done very little to make some of our men and women in uniform transition from their trademark barbarity to civility that is expected of a modern law enforcer.

The incident apologized for and termed by Coast Regional Police Commander Rashid Yakub as "unfortunate and uncalled for", has also drawn wrath from the Kenya Editors Guild which has demanded the immediate disarming and prosecution of the officer it has branded "criminal".

However, it is worth noting that this is not the first time that a Kenyan journalist is finding himself/herself on the receiving end of police brutality in course of duty.

The frequency at which it has been happening since time immemorial, has seemingly entrenched this culture of impunity among the police and which continue to be meted on members of the Fourth Estate day in, day out.

Consequently, journalists and police in Kenya have become strange bedfellows whom despite their roles being public service thus a need for synergy, don't see eye-to-eye. Below we try and examine why the two groups seem to be like water and gasoline that never mix.

Kenya Police only want their good story told

Like them or hate them, journalists worldwide including Kenya, have an integral role in the society through which everyone including the police have their stories told, good or bad. However, it is in the journalists' telling of police rot where the two groups cross swords.

Kenya police apparently only want to be reported while lining suspects of crime before cameras and not when collecting Sh50 bribes from crooked matatu drivers to allow them proceed ahead to go and cause traffic accidents. This is, however, unacceptable not only to journalists but also to anyone with a conscience.

Kenya Police have a fallacy about law

It is evident that many police officers have a blurred understanding of their role as law enforcers. As such, some have a fallacy that they are the law, and law is them.

But journalists understand the concept of law enforcement differently and will always be quick to highlight any breach of it by the boys and ladies in blue. And as you can expect, the police will continue to feel antagonized by journalists.

Kenya Police acts like regime tool

There is no doubt that our police officers seem to believe that they are only accountable to the regime in power, and not the citizenry.

As a result, unwarranted brutality, repression and suppression of citizens is apparently nothing to them as long as the regime is happy and contented that the end justified the means.

It is in the exposure of this misguided tyrannical behaviour by journalists, that police will never agree to while journalists similarly will never succumb to their discontentment.

Kenya Police widely subscribe to use of force than reason

It is typical of Kenya Police to employ physical force, sometimes excessively leading extra-judicial killings. Even a situation that can be resolved through reasoning and end up with desirable results, will oftenly be resolved with Hitler's brutality even if it means ending up chaotically like witnessed in Likoni on Friday.

The messenger who paints this picture of police ineptitude, unfortunately, becomes the police punch bag whenever they cross paths.

Content created and supplied by: Danielgathua (via Opera News )

Coast Regional Police Kenya Kenya Editors Guild Kenya Police Force National Police Service


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