NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – A report released by the National Committee on Administration of Justice (NCAJ) shows that rights of children in Kenya’s justice system are widely violated.
According to the report released on Wednesday, children in juvenile systems are physically, psychologically and sexually abused where they are supposed to get justice.
“Psychological, physical and sexual violence and various forms of neglect are still a big part of children’s lives across all stages of Kenya’s justice system. 79.8 percent of the total respondents reported having witnessed it perpetrated on other children and 72.2 percent having been subject to it,” the survey indicated.
Of the 12,000 children in the justice system in the entire country, 74.6 percent are males while 25.4 percent are females between six to 17 years.
Whereas children are supposed to be held in juvenile cells, the study found that about 60 percent of them shared same cells with adults.
Some of the children also reported having been attacked by their peers, adult inmates and even officers entrusted to protect them while in custody.
According to the study, violations took place right from the pre-trial detention to the final stages with girls being found to be more at risk of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
“Children are physically harassed, raped, beaten and overstaying. Children claim to be victims of staff and peers exploitation, bullying, physical, humiliation, neglect, discrimination and maltreatment. The environment has been described by the same children as unfriendly, unfair, threatening, abusive, punitive, ignoring them and forgetful of their rights. Children said they had slept in cells on a cold floor with no mattress or blanket,” the survey summarised.
NCAJ however appreciated that 10 rehabilitation schools, 14 remand homes and four rescue centres countrywide had been established to help address child violence cases.
Some 538 officers to serve in the Department of Children Services and 90 children’s magistrates had also been trained to enhance treatment of children in juvenile centres.
However, according to NCAJ, a lot more required to be done to ensure full protection of children and also the support required for correctional services including adequate budget allocation to improve conditions of juvenile centres and increase the capacity of officers.