Inmates have called for a review of the Sexual Offences Act, saying it is being exploited by women to have men jailed on flimsy grounds.
In a memorandum presented to the Senate Committee of Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights, inmates at Industrial Area prison said most of them were behind bars for sexual offences.
Committee chairman Samson Cherargei said the Act was drafted in a manner that makes it easy to throw someone in jail. He promised his team will start the review process.
“While this Act has been helpful in reining sexual violators, drafting of this law appears skewed. It only targets some people,” the Nandi senator said.
The inmates complained that the level of proof for sexual offences was low, making it easy for a complainant to “cook allegations.”
“A review should be undertaken to make it stringent, such that should the accused be acquitted, stern legal action should be taken against the complainant,” the inmates said.
The senators were on a visit to the correctional facility on Tuesday.
The inmates cited a recent case aired by Citizen TV in which a convicted man was allegedly framed by his wife who accused him of sexually molesting their daughter.
“We have seen instances where people are being framed by their own children due to influence and undue pressure from their mothers,” they said.
Senators Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, Mohamed Faki, and Mithika Linturi said they were surprised the file of the inmate in the expose’ had not been recalled.
“Why has the file of the Kamiti prisoner whose daughter said she was influenced to incriminate the father not reached the Chief Justice?,” Mutula said.
The inmates petitioned the committee to develop a law to facilitate the integration of offenders who have completed their jail time.
“The Senate should come up with a legislation to integrate acquitted prisoners or those who have completed their terms and paid their debts back to the society without red tape, bureaucracy, discrimination and stigmatisation,” the memo reads.
They want restituted offenders discharged of their conviction records so that they are not disadvantaged when seeking job opportunities.
“We find that there are numerous cases where rehabilitated prisoners are still being discriminated against and denied employment opportunities,” they said.
As part of sustainable integration arrangements, the prisoners want an affirmative action to recognize ex-convicts as a marginalised group.
“Parliament should come up with legislation and nominate both at the National Assembly and the Senate ex-prisoners or remandees as part of the marginalised groups.”
The inmates asked the committee to address huge bond and bail disparities for the same offences in the courts. They complained that courts impose exorbitant bail terms on most remandees, making them languish in jails.
“A majority of us live below poverty lines and it’s a grave challenge raising the bond or meeting those terms,” the memo said.
They said some remandees and inmates are denied bail or bond by the courts yet others with similar charges are granted the same.
Brian Ochieng’ Odhiambo, 15, told the Star he was arrested last year in Kariobangi and charged with being in possession of a knife. He was accused of preparing to commit a felony.
The Standard 8 leaver said he was granted a bail of Sh50,000 last July but was unable to raise the amount, hence remanded at the juvenile section.
The inmates also complained of slow pace of determining the cases, with Makadara law courts cited as notorious for case backlogs.