Maraga slams judges for allowing suspects to conceal identity in court

In Summary

• Some suspects wear hoods and sunglasses, while others put shawls around themselves, only leaving their eyes visible.

• Maraga says behaviour such as suspects concealing their identity could bring the court to disrepute.

Businessman Jared Otieno and other suspects in a fraud case appear at a Milimani court on Friday, May 17, 2019.
Businessman Jared Otieno and other suspects in a fraud case appear at a Milimani court on Friday, May 17, 2019.
Image: COLLINS KWEYU

Chief Justice David Maraga has hit out at judges and magistrates for allowing suspects to cover themselves up to the point of not being recognisable when they appear in court.

In a statement on Friday, Maraga said judges, magistrates and kadhi courts should ensure they are not perpetuating impunity "by allowing egregious behaviour by suspects"

He said behaviour such as suspects concealing their identity could bring the court to disrepute.

The statement comes after KRA workers who are accused of tax evasion appeared in court with their faces completely concealed, making them unrecognisable.

Some suspects wore hoods and sunglasses, while others put shawls around themselves, only leaving their eyes visible.

Many suspects, especially those involved in corruption, conceal their identities using hoods and other items.

“While the right to privacy must be respected at all times, the due process of the administration of justice may well be hampered if suspects in criminal matters are not easily identifiable,” Maraga said.

He said concealing identities is a serious issue, especially when it comes time to take a plea.

The Chief Justice added that Muslim women who wear hijabs or burqas and others who wear religious attire have routinely complied with court directions and do not seek to conceal their identities, adding that others should follow suit.