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Commemoration Of African Day On Pretrial Detention

The African day on Pretrial detention is in line with the Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa (‘the Luanda Guidelines’) which were officially launched by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘ACHPR’) during its 56th Ordinary Session in Banjul, Gambia on 25 April 2015.The history of Kenya has been marred with large scale violations of fundamental Human Rights in places of detention. The unnecessary and arbitrary use of arrest and pre-trial detention is a major contributory factor to prison overcrowding in Kenya. According to prison statistics, more than half of the detainees in the criminal justice system are awaiting trial.

The Luanda Guidelines establish a detailed framework to promote a rights-based approach to decision-making in relation to remand orders, and safeguards for persons who are subject to such orders. As with police custody, the Guidelines emphasize that remand detention should only be ordered as an exceptional measure, and encourages State Parties to the African Charter to establish and maintain alternatives to remand detention. There is also focus on the judiciary, providing guidance on the framework for decision-making in terms of judicial orders for remand, and review of remand orders. It also sets out procedures in the case of delays in investigation or judicial proceedings that may result in prolonged remand detention. Lastly, it establishes safeguards for persons who are subject to remand orders, including that remand detainees should be held in officially recognized places of detention and have access to a lawyer. In totality, the entire process seeks to ensure that the various actors within the criminal justice system observe and uphold the rights of an arrested person as they execute their mandates.

KNCHR marked the African day on pre-trial detention for the first time in Kenya on 25th of April, 2016 at Langata women prison. Subsequently, the Commission in collaboration with other partners working within the criminal justice system have conducted activites at Nairobi Remand and Allocation prison (2017) and Mathari National Teaching and referral Hospital (2018). Various activities including inspections of places of detention, public lectures to publicize and provoke dialogue the Luanda Guidelines and media awareness have been conducted with the aim of providing creation a basis for the development of national level awareness raising and advocacy on the implementation of the guidelines.

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Categories: Penal Reforms
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