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.


With the range of security threats that Kenya faces, including terrorism, transnational crime, and spillover issues from unstable regional neighbors, Kenya must take an approach to its security posture that is comprehensive and based on rule of law so it can defend itself and maintain a leading role in ensuring the stability of the region. While Kenya continues to make important strides in promoting security and the rule of law a number of key challenges remain. Widespread corruption in Kenya inflicts substantial costs upon the economy, society, and security, and undermines citizen confidence in the rule of law. In 2018, Kenya ranked 144 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Impunity for security force misconduct also contributes to Kenyans’ lack of confidence in security institutions and undermines the country’s overall security. The September 2013 terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, 2015 attack on a university in Garissa, and the January 2019 attack on the DusitD2 complex are examples of the level of insecurity that Kenyans, and Americans living in Kenya, suffer.


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 Kenya 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 whose mandate is to bolster police accountability; 2) to combat corruption and transnational organized crime, we facilitate training and mentorship of Kenyan law enforcement entities by their U.S. counterparts; 3) to support Kenyan counterterrorism and crisis repose capacity we offer training and technical support to crisis responders.

Promoting police accountability and professionalism is at the forefront of INL Kenya programming. We offer operational and technical assistance to the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) of the National Police Service, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), and the National Police Service Commission (NPSC). The latter two bodies are civilian-staffed and provide external oversight of the police. Together, the Government of Kenya and INL work to make the police more disciplined and regain the trust of Kenyan citizens.


Through implementation of an automated case management system, INL assistance has dramatically increased IPOA’s ability to process cases of police abuse of power, from initial complaint collection through prosecution. With INL’s assistance, IPOA has now completed hundreds of investigations and referred dozens of cases for prosecution.

INL assistance to the NPSC resulted in the development and implementation of policies, regulations, and human resources strategies, as well as assistance to help vet all Kenyan police officers, which is required by law. INL support to the Internal Affairs Unit provides for an anonymous complaints hotline so that Kenyans can report cases of police abuse without fear of retaliation. INL also funded an embedded advisor to the IAU. Due in large part to this assistance, the IAU is now increasingly capable of carrying out professional and independent investigations.

Finally, 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 awards to NGOs in March 2015.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future