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Police Abuse Of Power

In many places, police not only fail to protect vulnerable people from violence, but they are violent predators themselves. IJM is working in Kenya to end police abuse of power.

Millions of the most vulnerable people in the world live in fear of police who extort bribes and brutalise innocent citizens. Parents often teach their children to run away from police, rather than going to them for help. In Kenya, it’s easy for a corrupt or incompetent police officer to falsely accuse and imprison, or even kill an innocent person who can’t afford to pay a bribe. Without a lawyer, the innocent person will often wait years for freedom. In the case of extrajudicial killings, surviving family members have started speaking out, demanding an investigation and the delivery of justice. For years, police could expect to get away with these crimes.

The Facts arrow-simple-bottom
  • 1 in 3 people in Kenya experienced police abuse or harassment in the last year. [1]
  • Every year, about 10 million people worldwide enter pre-trial detention—held in prison without any proceedings to determine their guilt or innocence. [2]
  • In nearly 2 out of every 3 felony cases, police never gathered enough evidence to charge an alleged offender. [3]
[1] Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority
[2] Open Society Foundations
[3] IPOA

Arbitrary Arrest & Detention

In many communities in the developing world, the police can detain suspects in jail with virtually no evidence. In these circumstances, it is easy for officers to frame vulnerable people who may have limited formal education in order to conclude investigations quickly. Vulnerable people can be imprisoned on the basis of a mere accusation, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even for being unable to pay a bribe to a corrupt officer.

Without an advocate, victims of false imprisonment can waste away in jail for years of their life—in fact, experts have identified cases in which Kenyan prisoners have been detained up to 17 years before receiving a trial.[4] Court proceedings are often held in official languages—a language the falsely accused person may not speak or understand—and translators are not provided.

For a family struggling in poverty, imprisonment of an innocent breadwinner means that necessities like food, education, shelter, clothing and medicine can slip out of reach. They may be forced to relocate to even more insecure housing, or take their children out of school to work, all because they cannot afford the fees. Most families cannot afford to even visit their loved ones in prison.

Police Brutality

In many places in the world, “torture remains a routine part of police work to extract confessions or other information from suspects who refuse to ‘cooperate.’” [5]

With insufficient training on professional methods of investigation and virtually no accountability for bad police, corrupt police can physically assault and even murder without suffering consequences. The terrifying result is that billions of the poorest people live in communities in which the police not only fail to protect them from violent predators, but where the police themselves become violent predators.

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