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MP raises concern over remand period for prisoners

07 August 2014, 10:22 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – Ndhiwa MP, Aghostinho Neto has raised concern over the remand period and population of prisoners saying some prisoners are held beyond the prescribed time, sometimes in overpopulated facilities.

“Some prisoners have been there for more than four years and a facilitative process and an effort to provide legal aid to remand prisoners is needed,” Neto lamented.

He asked the National Assembly’s Committee on National Security and Administration Chair, Asman Kamama to provide information on number of remand prisoners across the country with the average number they have been locked up, the county with highest number of prisoners and its attribution in addition to measures put in place to assist in expediting the hearings to avoid infringing on their rights.

Kamama in his response revealed that there was a total of 21 022 remand prisoners including 1 283 females and 19 739 males across the country and that the prisoners had been in remanded for approximately six months.

“Nairobi County has the highest number of remand prisoners totaling 3 764, comprising 3 422 males and 342 females,” said Kamama.

He reiterated that the high number of prisoners in Nairobi is attributed to its huge population density, high level of unemployment and high number of referral courts and cases in the city.

Kamama said the government has developed proper measures to help in expediting the remandees, which include taking of prisoners to court for trial of their cases by the prison department and release of convicted remandees.

“The National Council of Administration of Justice has formed Court Users Committees at county level to identify challenges that hinder the expeditious delivery of justice and propose effective measures to hastening the trial process,” said Kamama.

“The Constitution has empowered the Judiciary under Article 49 (2) not to remand a suspect if the offence is punishable by a fine only or by imprisonment for not more than six months. The Judiciary has formed a taskforce which is currently developing a policy on bail and bonds,” he added.

Nakuru Town MP, David Gikaria alleged that Nakuru Prison faces food shortage problem and that children below 18 years of age are put together with hardcore prisoners.

“One of the issues that we found in Nakuru prison is lack of food. We have been given the number of female and male remand prisoners without the number for children. Also, hardcore criminals were being put together with children below 18 years,” said Gikaria.

Kamama assured that his committee will look into the allegations and take appropriate action in addressing the matter.

The MPs were responding to issues raised in Parliament during the debating session.

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