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Judiciary will embark on major prison decongestion programme

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to embark on a prison decongestion programme, the chief justice said on Monday.

Willy Mutunga told a national justice forum attended by senior judiciary officers that at present, the prison population stands at 54,579 against a capacity of 26,687.

"It is a reflection of an ineffectual justice system that allows many inmates to remain in prison when they do not deserve to be there," Mutunga said during the opening ceremony of the National Council for the Administration of Justice retreat.

"The prisoners are products of the lack of legal representation or misapplication of the law by a judicial officer," he said.

The chief justice noted that the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act has resulted in the imprisonment of young boys between the ages of 17 and 18.

"This is simply because the relevant law does not give discretion to judicial officers during sentencing," he said.

He added that all judicial sector players need to discuss how to institutionalize a prison decongestion programme by addressing the space dimensions of the problem.

The Governance, Justice, Law and Order public Sector received an allocation of 8.4 percent of the national government budget amounting to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars for the 2014/2015 financial amounting up from 1.3 billion dollars in the previous financial year.

Mutunga, who is also the President of the Supreme Court, said that over the past two months, there have been candid dialogues between the Judiciary and members of the National Security Council on counter-terrorism in the context of the Constitution and international human rights law.

"It is only through the innovation of security agencies on the one hand and the Judiciary on the other that a solution to combating the terrorism without infringing on human rights can be found," he said.

Mutunga called on justice sector agencies to devise creative ways of addressing national security without compromising national ideals.

The CJ told participants attending a three-day inaugural retreat of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) in Nanyuki that varied and collective responses to terrorism have brought into sharp relief the link between national security and justice.

"The Constitution has a very expansive and progressive Bill of Rights requiring that the new national security challenges we face be confronted within this new contextual reality," said the Chief Justice.

He said candid dialogues have already been initiated between the Judiciary and members of the National Security Council on counter-terrorism in the context of the Constitution and international human rights law.

The Chief Justice emphasized the need for all actors in the justice chain to negotiate a unified and common approach to their work while embracing a broader view of national security and human rights as mutually reinforcing.



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