Is the Kenyan Criminal Justice System fit for purpose?

April 20, 2019    0 comment


The Bandung Africa Project proposes a 2 day conference on 28th & 29th November 2019 at Strathmore University, involving lecture and panel discussions, with networking events to discuss strategies and policies to counter terrorism and violent extremism in the context of the Criminal Justice System reforms endorsed by the Chief Justice. The purpose is to examine the progress being made to develop our strategy to combat terrorism and anti- extremism since the Westgate attack. The recent Riverside attack, the Garissa atrocity and those thwarted by the security services underline the necessity of having an open and transparent dialogue to address the on going threat to Kenyan society posed by violent extremism.

This continues the discussions that were held during our November conference in Nairobi. The UNDP policy paper, Issue No 1, October 2017, “Articulating the pathways of the impact of terrorism and violent extremism on the Kenyan economy”, sets out the major social and economic implications of terrorism that Kenya has faced in recent years.
The necessity of having a National Debate on the reform of the Criminal Justice System, especially corruption and anti terrorism is highlighted by the 20th meeting of the National Council for the Administration of Justice held in Navaisha that resulted in a statement, on February 7th 2019, which stated,
“There will be enhanced capacity building among institutions through training on cross-cutting issues affecting the administration of justice.”

 

The NCAJ detailed a number of initiatives including

  • New approaches to the administration of justice shall be adopted, such as the integration of plea bargaining in criminal justice in order to expedite the conclusion of cases.
  • We shall endeavour to leverage on the use of technology in the whole justice sector, from investigations, prosecution and judicial processes. This will include, where necessary, prompting legislative changes to allow evidence from non-traditional sources such as CCTV.
  • In order to improve governance and enrich citizen faith in the criminal justice system, members agreed to improve transparency and accountability in their individual systems and procedures.
  • In order to eliminate bottlenecks in the fight against corruption, the Council resolved to set up a committee to identify key challenges and make proposals that will engender greater efficiencies.

The Bandung Conference recommendations have already highlighted a number of reforms such as the introduction of suspended sentences, electronic tagging of offenders on remand to reduce the prison population, the use of part time Judges and Magistrates to clear the back log of cases and the adoption of alternative dispute resolution. The resources freed from a Justice system disproportionality targeting the poor and vulnerable would more easily address corruption, serious violent and sexual offences, and offences of terrorism and violent extremism.

The report by the Kenyatta University Institutional Repository, entitled, “Security sector reforms and their implication in fighting against terrorism in Kenya (1998-2015), also contains a detailed analysis of the extent of the problem and some solutions (http://ir-library.ku.ac.ke/handle/123456789/17581).

Our debate will enable a constructive dialogue to examine how we can work to implement the reforms proposed in the 2015 audit of the Criminal Justice System and explore how the Pan African jurist community can assist in that process.

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