NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17 – Members of Parliament have supported calls to strengthen rehabilitation schools in the country for juvenile offenders as a measure to ensure that they are effectively rehabilitated while making them accountable for crimes committed.
Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali the sponsor of the motion while making his presentation in the National Assembly said young offenders who commit crimes while in school should not to be remanded in adult centres but instead given alternative punishment.
Washiali who is also the Majority Whip said that crimes committed by students and lead to their arrest are usually mild thus the need for the whole issue of them being taken to cells should be re-considered.
“The figures I got form the police on the number of children that have been arrested over the years are so shocking but what’s even more baffling is the reasons for their arrests.
“What stood out though is the lack of attention from schools administrations who ignore the students’ demands consequently making them to go on rampage. Peer pressure is also a major reason,” he said on Wednesday while making his submissions.
Washiali cited that in 2016, some 435 students had been arrested countrywide for various offenses, while in 2017 the number stood at 108 and in 2018 he projected the figure could be higher following the spate of school unrests witnessed in different parts of the country.
“We should put pressure on the government on this matter so that more approved schools can be set up instead of them being taken to normal cells where are they held with hardcore criminals,” he said.
Washiali’s proposals attracted massive support with Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo saying that if the proposals sail through, approved schools should be constructed in all 47 counties.
Maanzo argued that the current system where students who commit crimes are taken to court always end up with their cases dragging for a while hence affecting their progress in life.
“These children when they are presented before a court of law, they eventually join the club of the jobless youths.”
Nominated MP David ole Sankok while supporting the proposals found himself in an exchange of words with Matayos MP Odanga Godfrey who rose on a point of order to seek clarification on the remarks made by Sankok that teachers are to blame for the level of indiscipline in schools.
“Probably these students are following the footsteps of their role models who are the teachers considering the amount of time they spend with them at schools,” he said.
Sankok was however forced to withdraw his remarks after Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi forced him to retract his words.
Siaya Woman Representative Christine Ombaka however opposed the recommendations and said that children who commit crimes in schools should be punished severely.
“When children burn schools and beat teachers they should be punished, counselling them at times is never a lasting solution. What is wrong with arresting them and imprisoning them at least for two years?” she posed.
Article 53 of the Constitution provides that every child has the right not to be detained, except as a measure of last resort and when detained, to be held for the shortest appropriate period of time separate from adults and in conditions that take account the child’s sex and age.
Section 18(2) of the Children’s Act provides that a child offender shall be separated from adults in custody; further appreciating that the Children Act, 2001 advances the protection of children from any action deemed hazardous or likely to interfere with the child’s education, health among others.