NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 18 – Vice President Kalonzo has re-affirmed the government’s commitment to reforms in the country’s correctional service facilities to conform to international standards.
Mr Musyoka said since the launch of the Integration Correctional Services Improvement Programme and reforms Secretariat in 2008, much progress has been realised particularly in the rehabilitation of inmates, housing, healthcare, transport and general welfare of both staff and prisoners.
“Legal and human rights issues have for a long time raised public concern, prompting the need for continuous improvement in the correctional service institutions,” he said.
The Vice President made the remarks when he launched the Legal and Human Rights Unit in Prison Stations at a ceremony held at the Nairobi West Prison.
The unit is mandated to provide legal aid to staff, remandees, convicted prisoners as well as offenders on custodial sentences and victims of crime.
It will also preside over human rights related complaints, disputes, arbitration between offenders and victims of the crime and undertake human rights awareness activities in the correctional services among other programmes.
Mr Musyoka in whose docket the Kenya Prison Services falls asked all players in the correctional services to dedicate their energies in the ongoing reforms to ensure sustainability and enhanced service delivery.
He stressed the need for closer collaborations between agencies in the criminal justice system including the police, judiciary and prison services in order to realise success in overall reforms.
“Joint efforts with stakeholders will greatly contribute towards the dignity and improvement of the basic rights of offenders,” the Vice President pointed out.
Mr Musyoka said with the new reforms, the issue of prison officers stagnating in one job group for long would not recur since the department has created posts for promotions.
He assured the staff that the ministry would continue giving them moral support and motivation to enable them perform efficiently in their duties.
The Vice President also asked prison personnel to uphold high standards of discipline and professionalism and to avoid acts that are contrary to regulation governing disciplined forces.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Dr Ludeki Chweya singled out housing as the major challenge facing the prison department, saying that currently the institution needs 15,000 housing units for its staff.
Dr Chweya noted that the Ministry has already set up a committee to handle the housing issue.
He said the ministry recognises the importance of the rights and dignity of prisoners and this is why the ministry has set up the legal rights unit to look into the rights and violation of prisoners.
The former Chairman of the task force on Prison Reforms, Major (Rtd) Marsden Madoka commended the progress of the going reforms and appealed to the prison staff to be patient since the reforms need massive funding.