The operation to flush out bandits should be done in a humane manner

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The three-day amnesty for the surrender of firearms in illegal possession lapsed on Friday paving the way for a multi-agency security operation to flush out bandits in North Rift, parts of Samburu and Laikipia counties. The Professional Criminologists Association of Kenya (PCAK), welcomes the government’s painstaking decision to deploy police and military officers on the ground, particularly in areas declared as disturbed and dangerous.

In carrying out the delicate “Operation Maliza Uhalifu North Rift”, a balance should be struck between protecting lives and mopping up illegal arms used to kill, maim and perpetuate banditry. Aware that more than 100 people
and 16 police have been killed in the last six months in the region, PCAK does not hesitate to support the operation meant to restore order.

However, the fundamental rights of innocent people must be respected and protected at all times. This is so because previous such operations have been marred by claims of gross human rights violations, with security agents being accused of abuse of power and use of unjustifiable force. To win the trust of locals, the multi-agency teams should carry out the operation in a humane manner while training their eyes on the real culprits fueling insecurity.

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The killing of civilians and officers by the bandits should no longer be treated as mere statistics. Time is nigh – those behind must be apprehended and punished for their acts of cowardice. Similarly, no effort should be spared in
tracking down the benefactors of the perennial lawlessness in North Rift where communities have known no peace as viable economic activities aimed at uplifting lives are rendered into ruins.

As the operation gets underway, PCAK takes this early opportunity to urge locals in affected and targeted areas to cooperate with police and military officers deployed on the ground to restore law and order. We appeal to communities to volunteer information, in doing so, the operation could take the shortest time possible so that normalcy returns and people return to their routine businesses.

But operations are just short-term measures that have failed to cure the insecurity malaise. National and county governments should focus on
improving road networks, farming activities, education standards and health care. Equally, porous border points believed to smuggle into the country weapons and ammunition must be sealed once and for all.

Rishi Arun Parikh is the Director of Communications, Professional Criminologists Association of Kenya

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