Criminal justice system biased against youth, poor – CJ Maraga

The country’s criminal justice system is biased against youth and especially the poor, Chief Justice David Maraga has said.

CJ Maraga revealed that 75 per cent of pre-trial detainees are aged between 18 and 35 showing the existing legal framework does not favour the youth, adding that the poor are more likely to be arrested than the rich.

He was speaking when he launched a comprehensive criminal justice system audit report that focused on all aspects of judiciary, police, prosecution, prisons, probation and children’s department in Nairobi on Monday.

“For the first time, we have had our criminal justice system comprehensively audited with issues documented and published… The audit is unsettling in its findings; no agency can read this report and fail to be moved by its findings.

It is an urgent call for action to align the criminal justice system with the promise of the constitution,” said the chief justice.

The audit shows that 45 per cent of police arrests and detentions were done during weekends, with 64 per cent of those released missing records showing why they were released. The report also shows that there is a low rate of successful prosecutions for the cases that make it to court.

According to Legal Resource Foundation Executive Director Janet Munywoki, 4.3 million are detained every two years, with 68 per cent held in police cells over minor offences like being drunk and disorderly.

A total of 1,599 cases of sexual offenders were recorded, with 55,000 cases and 75,000 accused persons being registered in 14 Magistrates’ Courts across the country from 2013 to 2014.

“The objective was to look at a comprehensive analysis based on policy and regulation in terms of case flow management,” she said.

Speaking during the launch, Duncan Okello, the executive director of the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ), said the project was approved in May 2015, adding that the judiciary has tried to implement a culture of collecting data.

“To ensure there was integrity in data being generated, we set up an NCAJ steering committee to oversee the process. We are comfortable with the objectives of the study. I hope it will trigger a proper debate on how to handle the criminal justice system,” he said.

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