The bail and bond team retreated to Naivasha to work on its programmes and write report on the implementation of bail and bond in the country even as it develops a comprehensive Bail and Bond Bill that will address both substantive and procedural issues on bail and bond and, other administrative processes.
The team led by Justice Jessie Lesiit noted that despite the constitutional guarantee that arrested and accused persons have a right to bail and bond regardless of the offence committed, the administration of bail and bond continues to pose challenges both at the police and court level.
They cited difficulties in balancing the interests of the suspects, accused, victims and the public interest in decision making; disparities in decision making; unaffordability of bond terms leading to congestion in remand facilities; absconding by accused persons and weak inter-agency coordination as some of the challenges encountered by courts, police and prisons.
Other challenges include: holding facilities for accused persons who are vulnerable especially the children, the elderly, lactating mothers, and persons with mental and physical disability among others. Emerging issues in respect to intersex and transgender persons also posed challenges.
They said decision making on bail and bond particularly at the police stations remain opaque, unpredictable and in some cases arbitrary. In traffic cases, in particular, unreasonable bail terms are employed to traffic offenders which are often construed as punishment.
However since its inception, the Bail and Bond Implementation Committee has the developed public sensitization and educational materials such as FAQs, Charters for both the Judiciary and Police, sensitized stakeholders such as judicial officers and the public through Court Users Committees (CUCs) and mass media on Bail and Bond Policy Guidelines.
Further, the committee has entrenched the guidelines in the Judiciary Training Institute (JTI) training curricula, undertaken monitoring and evaluation of the uptake of the policy guidelines by the judicial officers and police, held bilateral engagement with key agencies in the implementation of the guidelines including the Offices of the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, the Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Inspector-General of Police, the Kenya Prisons Service, the National Transport and Safety Authority, the Director of Children Services and the Probation and Aftercare Service.
These activities have resulted to the adoption of cashless pay system in courts for payment of cash bail through mobile money transfer and agency banking as well as reduction of the numbers of the persons held in prison remand custody from over 48 per cent to currently 37 per cent of the total prison population that stand at 52, 000.
The committee is currently undertaking the following activities. This is in line with the reform agenda of the NCAJ in collaboration with development partners.
- Encouraging police, prosecutors, prison officer, probation and others to entrench training of the Bail and Bond Policy Guidelines through formalized and continuous training. To this extent the committee is working on a comprehensive training manual and a compendium of caselaw on bail decision making.
- Undertaking concerted mass sensitization of the public on the subject of bail and bond in order to make them understand that suspects and accused persons released on bail have not been left off-the-hook.
- Developing a comprehensive Bail and Bond Bill that will address both substantive and procedural issues on bail and bond and, other administrative processes.
- Developing tools for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the guidelines.
The committee said that after the implementation of the planned activities, it is anticipated that majority of Kenyans will be able to access bail and bond in an easier manner, remand prisons will hold appropriate numbers of remandees, there will be uniformity in decision making and proper balancing of the various interests and fair administration of bail and bond measures.
Download Bail and Bond Policy Guidelines. https://www.judiciary.go.ke/download/bail-and-bond-policy-guidelines-2/