23 petty offenders (20 men and 3 women) have been released from Wundanyi GK Prison in a process to decongest the prison.
The recommendations were made by Resident Magistrate Hon. Emily Nyakundi and approved by the presiding Judge Lady Justice Farah Amin.
Today, Voi High Court Presiding Judge Farah Amin received 24 files from Wundanyi Magistrate's Court & issued orders for release of 23 petty offenders in an ongoing exercise to decongest prisons. The 23 orders for release were handed over to Assistant in Charge of the prison. pic.twitter.com/pSz1JVkO0z
— The Judiciary Kenya (@Kenyajudiciary) March 20, 2020
This move is in line with the Chief Justice’s guidelines regarding COVID-19, that each station has a duty judge, a magistrate & a skeleton staff of 3, Nyeri Law Courts are guided accordingly.
The Kenya Prisons Service had earlier suspended all visits for 30 days to curtail the coronavirus outbreak.
State Department for Correctional Services Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein said the government put in place adequate measures to complement efforts to fight the pandemic.
She said the order applies to visits to prison lines, borstal institutions and youth corrective training centres across the country.
The injunction was also extended to prison staff. Ms Hussein said the step will minimise face-to-face contact with civilians.
“The Kenya Prisons Service has put in place adequate contingent measures and is fully prepared to protect those in custody, whose population currently stands at approximately 54,000 inmates and pre-trial remandees,” the statement said.
Since proper hygiene is billed as an effective way to prevent the virus’ spread PS Hussein said sanitisers, soaps and detergents have been provided to prisoners and hand-washing points set up.
Measures being taken by other countries
Local governments across the U.S. are releasing thousands of inmates in an unprecedented effort to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in crowded jails and prisons.
Jails in California, New York, Ohio, Texas and at least a dozen other states are sending low-level offenders and elderly or sickly inmates home early due to coronavirus fears.
At other jails and prisons around the country, officials are banning visitors, restricting inmates’ movement and screening staff.
Prisons have been a flashpoint in many countries’ battles against the virus, with several, including Spain and Iran, ordering the release of many inmates to lessen the risk of transmission among detainees and jail staff.
In Wuhan, the Chinese city where Covid-19 emerged three months ago, more than 800 prisoners were reportedly infected.