In a bid to decongest Kenyan prisons and contain the spread of the coronavirus, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has instructed prosecutors to facilitate the release of petty offenders.
DPP Haji directed prosecutors to work closely with Magistrates and other judicial officers to identify the deserving cases before appropriate direction is issued.
At the same time, the Judiciary is relying on technology to expedite the process, with more than 30 offenders set free in Malindi where the cases were heard via Skype.
Prison authorities have since taken contingent measures to protect the over 54,000 inmates and remandees in the country.
“We have suspended all visits to prison lines, borstal institutions, and youth corrective training centres across the country for the next 30 days. Therefore, no visitors will be allowed at our 107 correctional facilities as a precautionary measure to minimise face-to-face contact and interaction with the civilian population. This injunction has also been extended to the prison staff,” said State Department of Correctional Services Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein.
Ms Hussein and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i have been co-chairing daily meetings with a view to review risk mitigation strategies intended to prevent an outbreak.
“So far, we have also dispatched a team of health specialists to all the regions to join the county disease surveillance teams in the management of our infirmaries, which now have isolation units. In the meantime, our health facilities will be closed to the public and will solely serve the prison population.” said Ms Hussein.