NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A national commission in Kenya announced Thursday it has fired 302 police officers who refused to be vetted as part of reforms of the police force.
The reforms are aimed at restoring public confidence in an institution repeatedly implicated in endemic corruption and human rights abuses.
The National Police Service Commission said Thursday that the officers, most of them in the traffic department, will receive dismissal letters from police chief Joseph Boinnet, who is also a member of the commission.
The decision to dismiss the officers was reached at a board meeting held at the commission's offices on Tuesday, commission Chairman Johnston Kavuludi said.
Kenya is vetting all its police officers as part of a reform package the government agreed to undertake after adopting a new constitution in 2010. So far at least 3,000 officers have been vetted with close to 100 fired.
The adoption of the new constitution and police reforms were part of an agreement that ended post-election violence following a flawed presidential poll in December 2007 that left more than 1,000 people dead. Kenya's police force was accused of taking sides during the violence.
The police force is the most corrupt institution in Kenya, according to global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.
Eric Kiraithe, the government spokesman, said in his previous job as police spokesman that corruption in the police force runs deep and wide.
The vetting of some 80,000 officers, which started in December 2013, has been criticized for overlooking the human rights records of senior police officers who have been accused of sanctioning and participating in extra-judicial killings of suspects.
A U.N. expert on extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary killings said Kenyan police are a law unto themselves and carry out carefully planned, systematic and widespread killings of individuals. An investigation by The Associated Press last year found that many ordinary officers on the beat have turned into killers — doling out death to terror suspects, civilians and even children.
The vetting panel has faced several death threats. In one case a severed head was sent to their office with a note warning them to tread carefully.