Prosecutors have been ordered to facilitate the release of petty offenders in a bid to decongest prisons in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji gave the instruction to magistrates even as the Judiciary said deserving cases have been identified and appropriate directions will be issued.
Prison authorities Monday said they had put in place adequate contingent measures to protect the prison population, which numbers approximately 54,000 inmates and pre-trial remandees.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and the State Department of Correctional Services Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein have been co-chairing daily meetings in a bid to review risk mitigation strategies intended to prevent an outbreak.
This order comes a few days after Wundanyi GK Prison released 23 petty offenders (20 men and 3 women) 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.
The Kenya Prisons Service had earlier suspended all visits for 30 days to curtail the coronavirus outbreak.
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.