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Power of mercy committee collects views in Kajiado

Kajiado County residents have proposed that minor offenders, elderly prisoners and those who have already served long sentences should be awarded Presidential Pardon.

Speaking during a public participation forum to review laws relating to the exercise of the Power of Mercy under Article 133 of the Constitution, the residents added that reformed convicts, People Living with Disability and those with terminal illnesses should also be given priority when considering for pardon.

The residents however proposed that before mercy is granted, the severity of the crime should be critically reviewed.

Among other proposals fronted was that prisoners convicted for defilement, rape, terrorism, premeditated murder and gross violation of human rights should not be pardoned but serve full sentences.

The locals added that those jailed for poaching and trading of wildlife trophies and game meat should also not be considered for presidential pardon.

The forum that was Chaired by the Power of Mercy Advisory Committee (POMAC) CEO, Dr. Lydia Muriuki, was attended by stakeholders and representatives from the Civil society, religious groups, Judiciary, ‘Nyumba Kumi’ representatives, Maendeleo ya Wanawake and youth leaders, security teams among others.

Muriuki noted that the taskforce was collecting views from stakeholders and members of the public in 24 counties, on the review of laws relating to the exercise of the Power of Mercy under Article 133 of the constitution.

“The views from stakeholders and members of the public will support the streamlining of the pardon process in Kenya,” said Muriuki.

She stressed on the need to establish a proper social reintegration programme to provide offenders with the assistance they may need to reintegrate into the community and desist relapsing into crime.

Muriuki noted that many offenders often relapse into crime due to stigma from the society and difficulty in acquiring documents like Certificate of Good Conduct that may enable them get employment.

“Convicts who have been pardoned and reformed have difficulty accessing Certificates of Good Conduct. They are not able to access job opportunities and they easily slip back into criminal activities,” she added.

On her part, Justice Cecilia Githua, the Chairperson Community Service Order and a member of the taskforce reiterated that all views collected would help in formation of a policy framework and amendment of the Power of Mercy bill.

She added that among the proposals fronted in other counties that they had visited include formation of County-based committees that will assist POMAC in scrutinizing the backgrounds of inmates set for presidential pardon to ensure that the exercise is credible.

The county committee is expected to enhance transparency and eliminate graft during the process to ensure that only deserving convicts are granted pardon.

The taskforce has already collected views from 21 counties, with Kajiado being the 22nd county. The team is set to visit Nairobi and Nakuru counties before compiling the report.

The Power of Mercy Advisory Committee is a Constitutional body established pursuant to Article 133 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 whose core mandate is to advise the President on the exercise of the Power of mercy.

The committee which is chaired by the Attorney General is mandated to advise the President on the exercise of the Power of Mercy, a prerogative power conferred upon the President by the Constitution and entails granting pardon to reformed and rehabilitated convicted criminal offenders deserving early release from prison.

By Rop Janet

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