Court lets Panyako and colleagues off the hook over nurses’ strike chaos

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has suspended criminal prosecution against officials of Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN).

Justice Byram Ongayo ruled that the prosecution of Seth Panyako and 10 others before the Chief Magistrate’s court shall not proceed until determination of a petition challenging the case is made.

The union through lawyer Edgar Busiega told the judge that the criminal charges preferred against the officials has no basis in law, saying it is purely a labour dispute without any criminal implication.

Panyako and his co-accused were arrested on October 29, 2018 and later charged with offence of creating disturbance.

“The Labour Relations Act No 24 of 2007 and specifically Section 22 explicitly outlaws criminalisation of labour disputes,” the lawyer said.

Busiega said that impugned criminal proceedings are an abuse of the court process and a blatant infringement of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the officials.

He said that there exists an ulterior motive in the decision of Director of Criminal Investigations to recommend prosecution under the instigation by Kenyatta National Hospital with whom the officials have had labour dispute.

The judge directed that the applicants do serve the DPP, DCI and KNH and the matter be heard on May 20, 2019 by all parties.

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