The protection of rights of juveniles in the criminal justice system in Kenya

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Kampala international international: School Of Law
The objective of this research is mainly to expose current abuses of the rights of juvenile offenders in order to ensure conformity with international treaties and conventions. Having recognized that there are efforts towards achieving the protection• of the rights of juvenile offenders, it was discovered that much still needed to be done. The methodology used is library research, achieved through the analysis of books, reports and newspaper/magazine articles. Data was also sourced from the internet. The findings of this research were that abuses of the rights of juvenile offenders include beatings during arrest, torture during questioning of the offenders to extract a confession. Other abuses are that the children are often remanded together with adults, thus exposing them to hardened criminals and to other forms of physical, emotional and sexual abuse by the older criminals. Many of the children are tried in adult courts since their ages are rarely ascertained at arrest to ensure that they are tried in children courts. Violations of the rights of juvenile offenders also include arbitrary detention, denial of bail, disregard of legal assistance and intimidation. The ideal situation of having the juveniles' parents present during their questioning is more often than not disregarded. The children are often detained for necessarily long periods under dehumanizing conditions, which include poor feeding, lack of medical care, poor sanitation and bedding, not being allowed to bathe or play and being infested with insects. This research recommended several measures to uphold the rights of juvenile offenders within the criminal justice system. These include the training of law enforcement persom1el and other stakeholders in the system in dealing with juvenile cases. Further it has been proposed that there be prohibition of the use of brutal force during arrest by police and prosecution of crimes so-related so as to challenge the culture of impunity. Other recommendations include that there should be established child protection units in police stations and placement of trained child protection officers at police stations. There is need to ensure that children are diverted from police stations and courts since the focus is more on rehabilitative rather than retributive justice. Detention should be for the shortest time possible and the law should impose certain limits on the periods of detention and ensure that remand homes are only a temporary measure. Other recommendations include that children should not be mixed with adults both in remand and committal. There should be prohibition of physical and sexual abuse of the children by older inmates and staff. This can be done by having strict measures to deal with cases of abuse. Conditions in remand homes should be improved, for instance overcrowding. It was discovered that the poor conditions in remand centers often lead the children to plead guilty so as to avoid being taken back there. It has also been noted that there is need to establish more juvenile courts around the country and to train more magistrates to specifically handle juvenile cases. There should be systematic and diligent efforts to establish the ages of young person’s appearing before court so that juveniles' cases are heard in the juvenile courts. Cases of children in need of care and protection should be distinguished from criminal cases and free legal assistance provided for those accused of crimes.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of bachelor of laws degree of Kampala international university
criminal justice system, Protection, Rights, Juveniles, Kenya