Court stops DCI from posting suspects’ photos on internet

A screenshot of DCI facebook page.Photo Courtesy
A screenshot of DCI facebook page.Photo Courtesy

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations will no longer post photos of suspects on their social media accounts until a case filed in court is concluded.

In the recent past, the DCI and the National Police Service have been posting photographs of suspects on their accounts. There has, however, been a public uproar over their failure to post pictures of suspects of high-profile cases. Kenyans accused them of bias in their approach to the war on crime.

Against this background, Henry Shitanda filed a petition to have the agencies barred from posting pictures before one is charged. He said such a move violates the law.

On Friday, Justice Wilfrida Okwany issued temporary orders restraining the DCI and Inspector General of Police from posting suspects’ booking photographs, pending hearing and determination of the petition.

“A conservatory order is hereby issued restraining the Inspector of General Police and Director of Criminal Investigations from posting suspects and or accused persons’ booking photographs on the internet and social media — more specifically on the DCI Facebook and Twitter page,” the order said.

The court further certified the matter as urgent and directed Shitanda to serve the respondents with the petition.

Shitanda says the DCI’s actions are not sanctioned in law — not even by the National Police Service Act.

He says the suspects are entitled to the right to privacy as enshrined in the Constitution.

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“The internet and social media have made booking photos more embarrassing and humiliating than ever before,” Shitanda says.

The petitioner says some photos remain on the accounts or the internet long after suspects’ cases end. The case will be mentioned on March 5.

In 2015, Kenyan security agents released photographs of 38 suspected al Shabaab fighters on the run following attack on Buare military base in Lamu. It was believed the 38 were remnants of the militants that attacked the KDF camp during which 15 of their accomplices and three Kenya Defence Force soldiers were killed.

On the list was a German, Ahmed Mueller, alias Abu Musiabha. He was described as a key figure in al Shabaab and reported to be the mastermind of the 2014 Mpeketoni attack in which more than 90 people were killed.

Mueller was born on February 15, 1972 in Cochem, Germany.

“He is one of the few Western foreign fighters in al Shabaab who survived Ahmed Godane’s purge. There are indications that he could have been involved in the Mpeketoni attack of June 2014,” the Interior ministry said in a statement.

“He is on the run, probably injured after the attempted attack of Baure military camp in Lamu.”

Also on the list was Kenyan Ramadhan Kioko, alias Abu Nuseiba, a former notorious pickpocket in Nairobi.