set up to try people accused of breaking Covid-19-related regulations in the
Nairobi area have ordered them to pay fines of up to 10,000 shillings or do
community service for up to two weeks or have ordered their release.
a five-week period, the two temporary magistrate’s courts based at Moi
International Sports Stadium in Kasarani had not sentenced anyone to imprisonment
for violating the
Covid-19-related regulations, according to information provided to
Journalists for Justice by the Public Affairs and Communications Unit of the Judiciary.
The Covid-19-related regulations provide for imprisonment of up to six months
or a fine of up to 20,000 shillings or a combination of the two penalties.
March 15, the judiciary has taken measures to decongest the prisons so as to
reduce the spread of a new strain of coronavirus that causes the Coronavirus
Disease 2019 (Covid-19). These measures include judges and magistrates
reviewing all cases in which offenders were serving sentences of less than six
months to determine whether they can be released and decongest the prisons. The National Council on the
Administration of Justice (NCAJ) ordered such a review as part of
measures to stem the spread of Covid-19. Chief Justice David Maraga chairs the
first case of coronavirus in Kenya was announced on March 13. The government
has instituted a number of measures since then with the aim of reducing the
spread of the virus. These include shutting down schools and bars, requiring
public transport vehicles carry half of their licenced passengers and requiring
people to wear face masks in public. On April 6, the government announced a
night curfew as part of those measures.
the first curfew night the police acted with such brutality against people
caught outside their homes after curfew that President Uhuru Kenyatta was
forced to apologise to the public for the brutality. This was the first time a
Kenyan president had apologised for police brutality.
they have enforced Covid-19-related regulations, the police are alleged to have
killed 23 people or injured 40 individuals between March and July this year,
according to the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU).
May 7 and June 5, according to the Judiciary’s Public Affairs and
Communications Unit, the two magistrate’s courts at Kasarani handled cases
involving more than 2,000 people who had been arrested for breaking
Covid-19-related regulations and booked at 35 police stations in the Nairobi
for Justice is unable to give precise figures of the number of people arrested
between the period May 7 and June 5 because there are discrepancies in the
figures the Judiciary’s Public Affairs and Communications Unit provided. The
unit provided Journalists for Justice with a table divided into Week One to
Week Five and broken down into different categories such as accused persons on
community service or people fined.
column for accused persons adds up to 2,682. But when one adds up the different
categories of accused the total comes to 2,379. There is a similar discrepancy
in the column for accused persons who have been sentenced to community service.
Adding up those sentenced in Week One to Week Five the total comes to 622. But
the total given at the bottom of the column is 662.
date Journalists for Justice has not received a response after seeking
clarification from the Judiciary’s Public Affairs and Communications Unit about
to the Judiciary’s Public Affairs and Communications Unit, two magistrates sat
each day hearing the cases involving the more than 2,000 accused of violating
Covid-19-related regulations between May 7 and June 5. Two magistrates heard
cases each day for the five weeks but it was not the same two magistrates who
heard cases throughout the five weeks. The magistrates changed. A total of 12
magistrates presided over cases during the five-week period.
magistrates ordered 1,581 individuals who pleaded guilty to pay fines of
between 200 shillings and 10,000 shillings. Journalists for Justice did not
find any discrepancy in this figure of the number of people fined. The
magistrates ordered more than 600 people who pleaded guilty to perform
community service for between one day and 14 days at police stations, chief’s
camps and in Kasarani. The Public Affairs and Communications Unit of the
Judiciary did not specify what community service these individuals performed.
magistrates also set free 42 individuals under provisions of the Penal Code and
Criminal Procedure Code. According to the Public Affairs and Communications
Unit of the Judiciary, 23 individuals pleaded not guilty. It is unclear what
happened to their cases. The magistrates issued arrest warrants for 71
Law Society of Kenya challenged some of the Covid-19-related regulations, such
as the night curfew and public transport restrictions, in a petition they filed
on April 14. The Law Society of Kenya argued the regulations were
unconstitutional because the Cabinet Secretary for Health had gazetted them
before subjecting them to input from the public and before Parliament had voted
on them. In his judgment issued
on June 25, Judge James Aaron Makau declined to grant the Law
Society’s petition to declare the regulations unconstitutional or suspend them.
Makau said that based on his reading of previous court decisions in Kenya, “the
issue of public participation must be considered on a case by case basis as
public participation may not be applicable in all cases depending on the circumstances
in existence at the time, and public participation, must in my view be
considered in the peculiar circumstances of each case as no two cases are the
therefore find the Petitioner’s and the 1st Interested Party’s
contention that the Rules should be declared unconstitutional for lack of
public participation have failed to take into account the peculiar
circumstances of the current environment and the fact that indeed the
Respondents facilitated consultations as relates to restrictions of movement
generally. I find therefore public participation could not be applicable at the
time the Rules were made. I find no basis or justifiable reason to declare the
rules unconstitutional, null and void,” said Judge Makau.
first interested party Judge Makau referred to is the Kenya National Commission
on Human Rights.