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UNDUGU SOCIETY OF KENYA

Living the promise

Juvenile Justice

Feel that juvenile justice in Kenya is still one of the main problems government needs to address, as ill-treatment in prison is in violation of child and youth rights. Verbal and physical abuse from the community and police are some of the most common problems street children face daily.Police make arbitrary arrests of children for various reasons, ranging from loitering,possession of illegal weapons, refusing to give in to sexual demands, or being rude to police officers. Once in police custody, harassment of these children continues and sometimes worsens. Abuse ranges from being insulted, beaten, kicked, and detained, to sexual abuse and rape. “The detention centre is often over crowded that there is no separate cell for adults and children. The food they give is either not enough or dirty. And there is only one bucket that serves as a toilet for everybody,” said Ndegwa.He was arrested by the police for the possession of a pen knife. “At the police station I was beaten so many times. I was forced to make a false statement for a crime I did not do. There was no mattress to sleep on or even blanket to cover myself with. I slept on the cold floor in my pair of  t-shirt and shorts only. We were not allowed to go to the toilet, there was only one bucket for everybody if one needed to go to toilet,” he told IRIN.

“I’m scared of the police because I’ve heard many children have gone through bad experiences while in detention,” he added. Children are held in detention in remand homes or detention centres before receiving a trial. If they are subsequently found guilty they are sent to rehabilitation schools, for children who are under 15, or to borstal or prison if they are above 15-years-old. “Conditions at the remand homes or at the approved schools are sometimes as bad as in police cells. But at the prison or borstal the situation is far worse. In some cases, children are put together in the adult prison due to lack of space, or because they were assumed to be adults by the judge,” said Ndegwa. “There are reports of children being handcuffed to beds, stripped naked and beaten. Sometimes children are not allowed to eat, or their food is withheld as a form of punishment. They are often subject to sex abuse or sodomy by the guards or older youth,” she added. (story Ndegwa)