Govt Pressured to Release Prisoners Over Coronavirus [VIDEO]

  • Inmates at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison pictured on March 22, 2016
    Inmates at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison pictured on March 22, 2016
    Daily Nation

    23 petty offenders were on Monday, March 23 released from Wundanyi GK Prison in a bid to decongest the facility amid fears of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

    Resident Magistrate Hon. Emily Nyakundi of the Wundanyi Magistrates' Court made the recommendations which were approved by presiding Judge Lady Justice Farah Amin of the Voi High Court.

    Among the offenders are 20 men and 3 women. Orders for their release were handed over to a prison official at Voi High Court

    Pressure is piling on the government to release a section of prisoners to avoid a potential outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Kenya's jails.

    Political analyst Herman Manyora and leaders including Kandara MP Alice Wahome called for authorities to begin the process of identifying prisoners who could be released from congested facilities over the situation.

    Speaking on NTV's AM Live on Monday, March 23, Wahome urged authorities to take the matter seriously as an outbreak in one of Kenya's prisons would be catastrophic.

    Kandara MP Alice Wahome addressing the presence at a conference on Thursday, January 2, 2020.
    Kandara MP Alice Wahome makes an address on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

    "The prisons are congested. Many times there is no food. The Commissioner-General works under very severe, tight circumstances," Wahome noted.

    Wahome argued that with the economic slow-down occasioned by the pandemic, the country could potentially struggle to take care of prisoners' needs.

    "This route we are going, we will not have any money even to give them food. So, which is the worse evil?

    "If this thing breaks, God forbid, in an enclosed space like that, what do you think will happen? It would clear everybody there.

    "I'm talking about those who don't need to be there, and those who can be extended a bit of mercy; if for example they were prosecuted or processed wrongly," she explained.

    Wahome's sentiments were echoed by Manyora who maintained that many of those in prison did not deserve to be there.

    "Those who are attacking Alice and I don't understand that an overwhelming majority of people in jail today have no business being there.

    "Anyone bashing Alice and Manyora or the rest of us, just wait until this thing is over and go to Makadara Law Courts or Kibra Law Courts.

    "You'll see the way they are being processed and you'll agree with me that a lot of those people don't understand how the justice system works and they don't have representation. In other countries, government and other institutions ensure that anyone who appears before a court has some form of representation. Here we only do it for murder," Manyora asserted.

    A number of countries affected by the Coronavirus including Canada and the United States have already begun releasing 'low-risk' prisoners from various facilities to combat the spread of the virus.

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday, March 18, for instance, announced that his administration had begun identifying prisoners convicted for petty crimes and those considered most vulnerable to infection due to underlying health issues.

    Authorities in Los Angeles also released 600 inmates in two weeks in a bid to stem Covid-19 infections.

    "Our population within our jails is a vulnerable population just by who they are, where they are located, so we're protecting that population from potential exposure," Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters.

    Watch a video of Wahome explaining her thoughts below: