Date of Degree

5-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Criminal Justice

Advisor(s)

Eric L. Piza

Committee Members

David Green

Jeremy R. Porter

Peter Romaniuk

Eric Kiraithe

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Keywords

Kenya Police, Al Shabaab returnees, terrorist amnesty, countering violent extremism, police perceptions, process evaluation

Abstract

There are a few articles on front line officials as implementers of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) measures, a gap the dissertation has partly filled by exploring the Terrorism Amnesty and Reintegration Program (ARP) in Kenya using both qualitative and quantitative data. ARP developments have occurred in a political context wherein foreign government have been eager to advance CVE and the Kenyan Government has more-or-less gone along with that. The implication here is whether such policies will be effective and sustainable in Kenya. Importantly, if we view Kenya in a regional and even global context, it is now something of a "critical case" for CVE, given the extent of donor interest (and government effort) in advancing CVE. In this regard, there are no doubt lessons that can and should be learned from Kenya for those supportive of CVE in other part of Africa and the developing world. The first objective involved a process evaluation to understand agency related factors that led to the creation of ARP, determine if there was program integrity in its implementation, and its theoretical similarities with focused deterrence technique (FD). Process evaluation involved a content analysis of 150 newspapers and government-related documents. Results show that there are key theoretical similarities between ARP and focused deterrence technique (FD) particularly the social aspect of FD and the paradigm shift from hard militarized to “soft” power counter-terrorism strategies. There was program integrity on the ground but poor coordination between security agencies and community emanating from mistrust casts doubt on the success and sustainability of the program. The second objective involved an in-depth survey of Kenyan Police Commanders (n=273) randomly stratified by designation (Formations or specialized units and General Duty) to understand police perceptions of the intended effect and appropriateness of offering amnesty to radicalized youth. Results show that officers associate ARP with risk as majority widely think that Kenya could face more challenges because of the burgeoning number of returnees in the program as participants can seize this opportunity to infiltrate their ideologies into the program. Most officers not only agreed that it was difficult to identify genuine returnees but that the program is lenient on terrorists. Arguably, if police as implements don’t like CVE as shown by their perceptions, then ARP will not work owing to police culture of resistance to change and police discretion. The policy implication of the police survey findings suggests that implementers of ARP should train all Gazetted Officers on CVE benefits because success of CVE largely depends on perceptions and commitment of police commanders. This dissertation has contributed to CVE literature in Africa where studies utilizing primary data on CVE are lacking. The point of departure with previous CVE research is the use of primary data from Kenyan Police.

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