President Uhuru Kenyatta has today signed the Children’s Bill 2021. This raises the criminal culpability of children to 12 years.
“A person under the age of twelve years shall not be criminally responsible for any act or omission and that a child who commits an offence while under the age of fourteen years shall be presumed not to be capable of differentiating between right and wrong unless the Court is satisfied on evidence to the contrary,” Clause 221 of the law reads.
The new law replaces the Children Act 2001 which set the criminal culpability of children at 8 years. Thus, this is a huge win.
Notably, the law also outlines that children accused of committing minor offenses will not have to undergo court processes. rather, this will be sorted through the community-based systems.
Importantly, the law aims to make a setting for dispute resolution that is children-friendly. In the case that a child is a victim or complainant, a magistrate is appointed to foresee the case and ensure justice is served.
Also, children in conflict with the law will enjoy free legal aid to help them navigate through the justice system.
“Clause 64 provides for the establishment of child protection units by the Inspector-General in every police station for the purposes of providing, on a temporary basis, a safe and non-threatening environment for children in conflict with the law,” the law reads.
There is also more on adoption of children and the processes needed with the child’s safety as top priority.