, NYAHURURU, Kenya, Sep 10 – Residents of Nyandarua and Laikipia Counties have raised concerns over the long periods that young children are being held in custody together with adult offenders.
It is estimated that up to 200 children who are awaiting repatriation and committal to correctional facilities continue to share cells with adults, which is against the law.
On Friday, residents who met under the umbrella of the Nyahururu Court Users Committee (CUC) accused the government of failing to establish adequate correctional facilities for children and taking too long to facilitate transfers of children offenders to the few existing institutions.
Friday’s meeting was chaired by the Nyahururu Principle Magistrate Teresiah Matheka and was also attended by police station commanders drawn from Nyandarua and Laikipia regions.
Ms Matheka directed that all children languishing in police custody awaiting repatriation be taken back to court for further appropriate orders to be issued.
Participants at the meeting urged the Director of Children Services to rescind a recent directive requiring for a vacancy application to be made every time a child is committed to an institution by a court of law.
This followed revelations by a report by the children’s department presented in the meeting, which indicated that delays in confirming vacancies in children’s correctional facilities contributed to unnecessary delays in transferring children from police cells once they are committed to jail.
Ms Matheka said the poor state of affairs had contributed to children being introduced to hardcore crime by adult offenders keen in attracting minors to the world of crime as they become teenagers.
The Nyahururu child protection team said it had acquired some Sh1million from the Constituency Development Fund [CDF] which will be used to set up a child rescue centre in the town.
Nyandarua divisional police chief Jasper Ombati said the institution will be put up within the precincts of the local police station.
The rescue centers would also be used to counsel young offenders thereby keeping them away from adult cells where they get accustomed to criminal activities.