Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has opposed a petition seeking to deny bail to persons charged with graft, robbery, and sexual assault.
Appearing before the Senate’s Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee on Tuesday, Haji told Senators to reject the petition by a private citizen arguing that allowing the proposals would contravene the Constitutional principle which dictates that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.
“Article 50(2) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 guarantees a presumption of innocence on all accused persons regardless of the nature of the offence(s). There is already in place the Victims Protection Act passed by Parliament pursuant to Article 50( 9) of the Constitution. This Act contains detailed provisions on the rights of victims including participating in criminal proceedings,” the DPP said.
Taratisio Ireri Kawe, who hails from Embu County, filed the petition in the House in August.
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Kawe asked Senators to amend the Constitution and relevant laws, including the Penal Code, to have the suspects detained until their cases are concluded.
He also wants the House to amend Article 49 of the Constitution and introduce classification of types of offenses and a maximum number of days a suspect should be held in custody.
He argues that victims of heinous acts like sexual assault suffer frustrations after suspects are granted bail with some forced to abandon their cases altogether.
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“The ambiguity should be removed and hefty bail and bond terms on all financial crimes in nature, economic crimes and all crimes well being against them introduced,” the petition reads.
Some Senators like James Orengo (Siaya), Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) and Nairobi’s Johnson Sakaja strongly oppose the petition.
Speaking during the Tuesday session, the lawmakers said the legislature should not entertain the petition as it contravenes the rights of suspects.
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“The ODPP has given sufficient reasons legal, constitutional, statutory and otherwise, why we can not have a claw-back on Human Rights provisions outlined in the Constitution,” said Orengo.
On his part, Kilonzo said: “For the avoidance of doubt, I think this petition should have been dismissed summarily because it is a claw-back on The Bill of Rights.”