By Muthomi Thionkolu
There is a colonial dynamic to this DPP/DCI obsession with Friday arrests and opposition to release of accused persons on reasonable bail or bond terms. The Kenyan criminal justice system, just like most of Kenya’s public institutions, has its origins in the colonial administration. The colonial state and its institutions sought to (inter alia): pillage, oppress, humiliate, mistreat, debase and dehumanize the native African. The colonial state achieved these perverse objectives through (inter alia): unnecessary, brutish and disproportionate exertion of coercive power against the native African. This colonial legacy and mind-set beleaguers many of our public institutions to date. That is why, five decades after the end of official colonialism, the Kenyan state is okay with the idea of arrested persons defecating in buckets instead of proper toilets. Colonial legacy explains why our police, remand and prison cells have no dignified bedding, meals and other basic amenities. Colonial legacy explains why the police still require arrested persons to remove shoes, belts, watches etc. It explains why the police, the DPP and the DCI are obsessed with arresting and detaining persons who would, in all likelihood, faithfully attend court upon the issuance of summons. That is why the police are hostile to the idea of arrested persons meeting their relatives and advocates. That is why the police handcuff people who are unlikely to escape from lawful custody. Our criminal justice system, which has its origins in colonialism, does all these perverse things, among others, just to humiliate, debase and dehumanize. Without regard to the possibility that the suspect may be innocent of the alleged offence(s). Moreover, because the colonial system was antithetical to the notions of human dignity, due process and human rights, the DPP and DCI still think they can arrest anyone at any time with or without a reasonable or lawful justification. In sum, colonial legacy explains why our criminal justice system is almost synonymous with unjustifiable humiliation, mistreatment, debasement and violation of suspects’ inherent human dignity and other human rights. If you doubt the sentiments expressed in this post, just answer the following simple question. Would the DPP and the DCI be so keen on arresting suspects on Fridays and opposing bail applications if our police and remand cells had the lodging and sanitation facilities/amenities expected in a modern, civilised, open and democratic society?
Muthomi Thionkolu is a an Advocate and Legal Scholar