APO police seminar

National Seminar on Policing and the Prevention of Identity-based Violence in Kenya

On November 8 and 9, 2021, the Africa Programs Office (APO) of the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) joined with the Kenya’s National Committee for the Prevention of Genocide War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and All Forms of Discrimination (KNC) to hold a training seminar for law enforcement officers and other public officials in Nairobi, Kenya. The event, entitled, “National Seminar on Policing and the Prevention of Identity-based Violence,” welcomed the participation of 27 public officials from Kenya’s National Police Service, the KNC, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya. A part of AIPG’s ongoing project on combating identity-based violence in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, the National Seminar was funded with UK aid from the British people through the Jo Cox Memorial Grant.

The two-day training seminar began with introductory remarks from the Director of AIPG’s APO, Dr. Ashad Sentongo. Dr. Sentongo’s remarks reflected the event’s objectives of instilling in participants the value of protecting human and civil rights while examining the factors which put societies at risk for violating those rights; emphasizing the ways in which the promotion and protection of civil and human rights by law enforcement plays a role in the prevention of mass atrocities; and applying lessons learned to the challenges facing police today in serving multicultural communities in deeply divided societies. Following Dr. Sentongo’s introduction, Ms. Milicent Otieno delivered opening remarks on behalf of the KNC and welcomed Ambassador Nyambura Kamau, who represented the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rachel Omamo. After the opening ceremony of the National Seminar on Policing and the Prevention of Identity-based Violence, Commissioner David Birech took to the podium to deliver the event’s keynote address on behalf of the Inspector General of Kenya’s National Police Service on the topic “Policing and Protecting Civil and Human Rights”.

Following the keynote address,  Dr. Douglas Lucas Kivoi, Principal Policy Analyst at The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA)  presented a module on challenges and opportunities related to the protection of civil and human rights in the context of policing in Kenya. Dr. Lucas Kivoi was followed by Dr. Laura Anyola Tufon, Northwest Regional Coordinator for the Cameroon Justice and Peace Commission, who delivered a module that focused on gender-based violence and the importance of gender-responsive policing approaches to the protection of women and children. Dr. Ashley Greene, AIPG’s Academic Programs Associate for Africa and Transitional Justice, concluded the seminar’s first day with a module dedicated to “upstream” prevention measures and the prevention of identity-based violence in deeply divided societies.

The seminar’s second day was opened by Dr. Martha Mutisi, Senior Programme Officer at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Dr. Mutisi’s module was dedicated to the concept of human rights-compliant policing and the role that it plays in fostering demilitarization, as well as its utility in confronting pandemic scenarios. Dr. James Waller, AIPG’s Director of Academic Programs, followed Dr. Mutisi with a module entitled, “Becoming Evil,” which focuses on the ways in which average citizens can become perpetrators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Dismas Nkunda, award-winning journalist and CEO of ​​Atrocities Watch Africa, delivered the seminar’s final training module, which was entitled, “Policing amidst ethnic conflict and trauma-affected societies,” before Ms. Milicent Otieno, in representation of the KNC, led a forward-looking planning and benchmarking session for participating officials. Following this session, 4 key recommendations that had been developed over the course of the seminar were highlighted by the Director of Training and Reforms in the Kenya National Police Service, Dr. Ibrahim Jillo (HRM):

  1. Facilitate interactions with the Kenya National Police Service to explore collaboration on the integration and/or incorporation of prevention into their training curriculum.
  2. Facilitate the ability of senior officers to interact with atrocity prevention authorities over a longer period, such as 3 weeks, to gain a more in-depth understanding of relevant concepts and the information provided.
  3. Facilitate increased access to the AIPG online training programs, especially those targeting the security sector.
  4. Facilitate collaboration on training, materials, and knowledge dissemination to promote prevention-building training programs which support police officers at lower levels.

The seminar was then brought to a close with a certificate ceremony led by KNC Chair Justice Jamila Mohammed.

The National Seminar on Policing and the Prevention of Identity-based Violence represents the latest in a series of events organized by AIPG’s APO on this theme. The Auschwitz Institute and the Kenya National Committee also recently collaborated on the production of a documentary called Never Again that focuses on electoral violence in Kenya.