The National Coroners' Service Act and Police Accountability in Kenya

Missing Voices campaign match in Nairobi, Kenya
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Image courtesy of Missing Voices

Article 26 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides that everyone has a right to life and prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of this right. However, in spite of this, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary deprivation of the right to life is a common phenomenon in Kenya.

According to the Missing Voices website, Kenya police is alleged to have killed over 90 people from January to May of 2020. Kenya has a history of unresolved reported deaths. Prior to the enactment of the National Coroners' Services Act, the police had the liberty to decide whether or not and how they will undertake investigations into killings by other police officers. Upon the conclusion of the investigations, they would then decide whether they will proceed and open an inquest in Court or charge the offender with murder, which was rarely the case.

Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF) in partnership with Missing Voices hosted a public virtual webinar to discuss the challenges in the implementation of the National Coroners' Service Act, 2017 and its impact on extra judicial killings in Kenya.

The forum revealed that the Coroners' Service Act hasn't yielded much fruit though and as panellists; Dr. Brian Bichanga of Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU), activist Njoki Gachanja, state pathologist Johannssen Oduor, lawyer Kariuki Karanja, state legal advisor Emily Chweya, and Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) director, complaints and legal David Nderitu attest, a lot remains to be desired in the manner in which this Act has been operationalized.  

Listen to the forum podcasts below for more details.

The National Coroner Service Act: Whose Act?

 

The National Coroner Service Act: Weaponizing Poverty