The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
INL is actively engaged in Kenya’s efforts to professionalize its security services, promote police accountability, and combat corruption and transnational organized crime.
Challenges: With the range of security threats that Kenya faces, including terrorism, transnational crime, and unstable regional neighbors, Kenya must maintain a comprehensive, rule of law-based security posture so it can appropriately defend itself and maintain a leading role in ensuring the stability of the region. Widespread corruption in Kenya inflicts substantial costs upon the economy, society, and security, and undermines citizen confidence in the rule of law. In 2019, Kenya ranked 137 out of 198 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Impunity for security force misconduct contributes to Kenyans’ lack of confidence in security institutions and undermines the country’s overall security. Additionally, transnational organized criminals move contraband through Kenyan waters and undermine rule of law on the coast, which experienced a deadly attack on American military personnel at the Manda Bay Airfield in January 2020.
Goals: INL’s programming in Kenya is designed to improve civilian security by building the capacity of criminal justice sector actors and promoting a culture of accountability and public service. INL takes a three-pronged approach: 1) to address the culture of police impunity for misconduct and criminal behavior, INL provides training and technical assistance to three Kenyan agencies with the mandate to bolster police accountability; 2) to combat corruption and transnational organized crime, INL facilitates training and mentorship of Kenyan law enforcement entities by their U.S. counterparts; 3) to support Kenyan counterterrorism and crisis response capacity, INL offers training and technical support to crisis responders.
Promoting police accountability and professionalism is at the forefront of INL programming in Kenya. INL offers operational and technical assistance to the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) of the National Police Service and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA). Following a dramatic increase in police violence against citizens during an extended COVID-19 curfew, IPOA emerged as the public face of the government’s effort to bring accountability. Together, the Government of Kenya and INL work to make the police more disciplined and regain the trust of Kenyan citizens.
- INL provided support to the IAU by pairing experienced American police trainers with their Kenyan counterparts and creating a customized police oversight investigator training curriculum. As IAU instructors disseminate best practices throughout their ranks, they are increasingly capable of carrying out professional and independent investigations.
- Through implementation of an automated case management system, INL assistance has dramatically increased IPOA’s ability to build cases for the prosecution of police abuse of power. IPOA has now completed hundreds of investigations and referred dozens of cases for prosecution.
- INL has assisted the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to build a relationship with the newly established Kenya Coast Guard Service, responsible for enforcing rule of law along Kenya’s waterways. USCG legal experts built a strategic plan for implementing the Kenyan Coast Guard’s mission set and are sharing knowledge and professional experience to allow offshore operations.
- INL supports the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and its associated implementation plan by strengthening criminal justice responses to wildlife crime in Kenya through six grants awarded to NGOs.