JUSTICE REFORMS

Livestock, letter from pastor among proposed forms of bail

Maraga appointed the committee in 2015

In Summary

• The report recommends that judges and magistrates carry out regular prison visits to address bail and bond issues concerning accused persons.

• The team also proposes that courts accept letters of incorporation. 

Chief Justice David Maraga receives the Bail and Bond Implementation Committee report from Justice Lesiit on February 13, 2020.
Chief Justice David Maraga receives the Bail and Bond Implementation Committee report from Justice Lesiit on February 13, 2020.

Accused persons will be allowed to present livestock and recommendation letters from chiefs, employers and pastors as bail if a new judiciary report is implemented. 

The Bail and Bond Implementation Committee, led by High Court judge Jessie Lessit, has recommended that courts diversify the various forms of security it accepts from accused persons to reduce pre-trial detention. 

The report issued to Chief Justice David Maraga on Thursday also recommends that the courts should be reasonable and realistic in determining the amount of bail or bond imposed on accused persons. 

The bail and bond terms imposed on the accused should also take into account the socio-economic circumstances of the accused person and bail information reports. 

Maraga appointed the committee in 2015.

There are 21,733 remandees and 32,661 convicted inmates. This brings the total number of people in prison to 54,394.

Eighty-two per cent of inmates cannot afford the bails imposed on them by the courts.

The report also wants judges and magistrates to carry out regular prison visits to address bail and bond issues concerning accused persons.

It also wants judges to reject rampant adjournment of cases "except in exceptional circumstances and cogent reasons."

To address corruption in the payment and management of cash bail, the team has recommended that the judiciary establish a framework to regularly monitor, evaluate and report on the usage of cashless payment systems, including M-Pesa platforms. 

Justice Maraga, who presided over the event at a city hotel, said due to the high bail terms, most inmates remain incarcerated for a long time such that when their cases are determined, they endure double punishment. 

"It negates the principle of innocence until proven guilty as the inmates remain detained for even longer than the length of their sentences in some cases," he said. 

The CJ said it was unacceptable for accused persons to be subjected to pre-trial punishment just because they are not able to raise the bail. 

"We formed this committee to review the policies around bail and bond as reports have continued to indicate that the criminal justice system is skewed against the poor in the country," he explained, asserting that the recommendations were timely. 

DPP Noordin Haji took a swipe at unnamed people in the judiciary for securing lenient bail terms for high-profile accused persons while denying freedom to petty offenders.