Kenya : No land for sex offenders

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Kenya has moved to step-up the fight against sexual offenders by establishing a national registry that would contain personal details of those convicted. The registry, to be called The Dangerous Offenders Databank, will be available to the public.

This is among strict measures that will come with the implementation of the Sexual Offenders Act, which came into force in July 2006.

Attorney General Amos Wako Wednesday endorsed recommendations prepared by a task force mandated to come up with an implementation framework for the Act.

Wako said the databank would go a long way in reducing cases of such offences as it would scare away potential perpetrators, adding it would ease the work of prosecutors as it well as provide past records of the accused. “In the past, habitual sexual offenders have ended up being released simply because the courts cannot obtain any evidence against them,” said Wako.

He said the regulations would now be forwarded to the government printer for gazetting any time soon.

The idea of the creation of the dangerous offenders databank has been successfully implemented in developed countries like the US, New Zealand and Canada.

In the US for instance, anybody seeking data on a person convicted of the crime can subscribe to a national Sex Offender Public Registry where they are classified by relevant states.

Former legislator Njoki Ndung’u said that the task force was in the process of training key government sectors on the implementation of the sexual offences bill. Among sectors undergoing the training is the police, judiciary, prisons department, doctors among others.

“We have already trained 500 chiefs, we have provided complete manuals to the po lice and the training will go on. Some chiefs don’t even know there is sexual offences bill,” Njoki said. According to her, there was also need for medical officers to be allowed to testify in courts.

The task force, chaired by appellate judge Justice Joyce Aluoch, also recommended the establishment of the DNA laboratory, which will exclusively deal with sexual crimes. Aluoch said the absence of an independent facility to take care of sexual crimes was subject to several complications, including interference with evidence.

However, Wako revealed that his office had already embarked on a process that wi ll lead to the creation of the facility and will be operating under the Director of Public Prosecutions.

However, unlike the criminal offenders database, the DNA bank will be highly protected and access to details of the victims will be subject to authorisation from the relevant medical service providers.

According to the regulations, members of the judiciary, public prosecutors, the provincial administration, the prison department and other service providers in t he justice system will undergo rigorous training to enable them discharge their mandate effectively within the ambits of the act.

Wako pointed out that prosecution of sexual offences was complex and delicate which and they were occasionally faced with numerous challenges. “The ability of law enforcement officers to respond to the challenges through efficient, effective and ethical prosecution of sexual offences and humane handling of victims of gender and sexual based violence is therefore an absolute requirement for maintaining public confidence in the rule of law and administration of justice,” he said.

He stressed that the regulations will be able to address matters that were technical to be dealt with under the principal legislation, the act, adding that that will ensure secure, accessible and uniform treatment of victims of sexual and gender based violence and offenders.

The task force formed by Wako in March 2006 has been mandated to develop and recommend to the AG the regulations and guidelines for the implementation and administration of the act.

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