Act on these China trials involving Kenyans

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KATE KARONG’O

I read and watched with sympathy a few days ago as three young ladies accompanied by their auntie pleaded with the Kenyan government to negotiate with Chinese authorities and have their mother moved to a Kenyan jail, in a drug trafficking case.

What caught my attention is that the three sisters were not defending their mother Christine Nyabera Ongowo of wrong doing, but were pleading for her to serve a lesser sentence of life imprisonment in our notorious Kenyan jails.

I join in the plea.

It’s not proper for this woman and other accused Kenyans to be allowed to wallow in Chinese prisons given the fact that they may have suffered from a language barrier and lacked appropriate legal representation thus denying them access to justice.  Besides this, they are likely to suffer brutal treatment from prison authorities.

Isn’t it time the Kenyan government put together a team of lawyers in all its foreign missions so that any Kenyan arrested outside the country can have access to the best legal representation Kenya can provide?

Right now, the Foreign Affairs Ministry is reacting to a verdict, a judgment that could probably have been averted had there been adequate legal representation for these Kenyans.

Sources so far indicate that there are about 16 Kenyans who have been hanged in China for drug trafficking.

There are 27 others still in China with sentences ranging from life imprisonment to death and others have been condemned to up to 20 years in jail.

They go through a very short legal process and the next thing they hear is that they have been convicted to death. Is this fair? Aren’t they supposed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt? Some of these trials are conducted in a foreign language without translation.

Has anyone considered that some of these Kenyans may actually be innocent? They may have been in possession of the drugs yes but are not drug dealers. There are those who carry them without knowledge.

They may have committed the worst of crimes ever but even the most inhuman of persons deserves a fair hearing.

I do not advocate for the death sentence and opt for the option of life imprisonment which makes one pay dearly for the mistakes they have committed.

Serving a jail sentence in your own country is more accommodative and does not give a sense of hopelessness.  What we want here is for the person to reform… not despair.

Kate is a journalist at 98.4 Capital FM

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