The Maraga Task Force submitted its report to President William Ruto in November 2023. The task force was established to identify the legal, policy, administrative, institutional, and operational challenges hindering effective service delivery by the National Police Service, Kenya Prisons Service, and the National Youth Service. This article from the Missing Voices Report 2023 provides detailed insights into the outcomes of the Maraga report.


The National Task Force on Improvement of the Terms and Conditions of Service and Other Reforms for Members of the National Police Service, Kenya Prisons Service and the National Youth Service (the Maraga Task Force) delivered its report to President William Ruto in November 2023.

The Task Force was set up to identify the legal, policy, administrative, institutional, and operational constraints on effective service delivery by the three services. It also, more specifically, reviewed the welfare and the terms and conditions of service for members of the services.

In its report, the Task Force appreciated the fact that there had been many other initiatives before it which equally made recommendations on how to reform the services. It noted, “… it was clear that the problems identified were not new to the Services. They had been the subject of previous task forces and commissions.

 However, perhaps because it was not part of its terms of reference, the Taskforce made little attempt to identify the reasons why past reforms had not worked. Logically, this raises the fundamental question, among those who made submissions to the Taskforce, of whether the recommendations it made would be implemented.

“One of the most remarkable observations from the field visits was the public skepticism about whether the Taskforce’s Report and recommendations will ever be implemented or make any difference,” it noted in its over 500-page report.

 It further noted, “this is a well-founded anxiety based on the depressing reality that the issues surfaced through these public dialogues have, for decades, been flagged but remained largely unaddressed for just as long.”

Interestingly, the Task Force underscored lack of public confidence in the Services, including the National Police Service. It said, “…unlike previous commissions and committees, this Taskforce was not established to respond to any security risks.

The country was, however, faced with a dilemma: loss of public confidence in the internal security institutions, especially the police, on the one hand, and on the other, hand, the institutions feeling that their services were not being appreciated.”

 The above is a strong indictment on the country’s protracted history of reforms, and the what has been achieved, many years and billions of shillings later. The constitution reform initiative, which ushered in the 2010 constitution, was meant to resolve some of these major governance issues.

Failure by those in power to implement the constitution faithfully, is the key reason why the country is caught up in “reformism” post 2010. In short, the country is caught up in a cycle of reforms that simply do not achieve anything at the end of the day.

Most of the “reform” initiatives, including the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) only succeed in scratching the surface and not going deep enough to resolve the country's structural and systemic problems.

 The Taskforce underscored the importance of security in the life of the nation by pointing out the following: “Security defines the contours of nationality and determines the potential and viability of any society. No meaningful socio-economic or even political development can be realised, let alone sustained, where there is no sound legal framework, and a reliable mechanism for its enforcement”

It further emphasised that, “…for a country to function properly and thrive, it requires strict enforcement of the rule of law, evident in enduring security. This is the critical role that the security agencies are expected to play.”

Even more significantly, “the women and men who serve in sensitive security roles are the first defenders of democracy: holding forte against lawlessness and chaos. When security services are unable to optimally perform their roles, for whatever reason, the very foundation of the nation and its fabric comes under threat.”

Below, we summarise what the Maraga Taskforce said when it comes to the issue of impunity in the National Police Service, corruption and other issues that make it difficult, not only for the force to offer quality services, but also to respect the rights of Kenyans.

1. The culture of impunity in the Services and their glaring failure to effectively enforce the rule of law are slowly driving the country into a state of lawlessness and anarchy.

2. We are already losing investments to neighbouring countries partly because of this sad state of affairs which should not be allowed to continue. As part of the definitive break from the past, there must be a paradigm shift.

3. The Taskforce established that institutional and cultural failures that have frustrated transformation in the three disciplined Services for decades range from endemic corruption and land grabbing to sexual harassment, inhuman treatment, and outright injustice; indolence and aversion to learning; as well as political meddling all resulting in loss of public confidence in the three institutions.

4. Corruption, in literally every aspect of the Services’ affairs, was particularly singled out as having undermined professionalism and thus rendered them almost dysfunctional.

5. Every year, the National Police Service is routinely ranked as the most corrupt institution in the country without any sanctions, thus breeding a culture of impunity, which has spread to the other uniformed Services. The failure of community policing to take off is emblematic of this impunity.

6. Endemic corruption also permeates other aspects of the Service’s operations. Transfers, deployments, promotions, as well as procurement are riddled with corruption and favouritism, which undermines morale among NPS officers.

7. Cases of conflict of interest that fuel corruption have been reported. These include traffic police officers owning public service vehicles and motor vehicle breakdown services, alcohol outlets, gambling outlets, and generally engaging in business and activities that compromise their impartiality and professionalism.

8. All we need is uncompromising enforcement of the law and everything will fall into place. With serious enforcement of the law, corruption, which admittedly gobbles close to seven percent (7%) of the country’s GDP annually, will be radically reduced and, as a country, we will not need to seek foreign aid, especially foreign borrowing that is now almost crippling our economy.

Police impunity and corruption have a direct relationship with both extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, hence the importance of the findings of the Maraga Taskforce to the mission of Missing Voices Coalition. In other words, failure to end police impunity and corruption will mean that Kenyans have to continue experiencing these two crimes, which have negatively impacted families across the country. Missing Voices Coalition will therefore continue to advocate for an end to police impunity and corruption. In this endeavour, it will work consistently with its partners, especially the Police Reforms Working Group.


This article was extracted from Missing Voices report 2023. The report is available for download here