As the Coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 takes its toll on the world killing nearly 70,000 people so far with another 1.2 million people infected, many public institutions have been forced to improvise. One of the talked about government duties to society is the administration of justice.
Kenya has released about 4,800 prisoners in the last one month in order to stem the spread of the virus but it has found a new way of administering justice in Skype and Zoom.
Anne Amadi who is the chief registrar of the judiciary in Kenya told CNN that “We prioritized getting a lot of people out of prison, especially petty offenders. Those who are in prison for a short term and those who have been there for a long time but have just about six months and below to go.”
“As of Friday, last week, we managed to decongest the prison by about 4,800 inmates from different parts of the country. All our 39 high court stations have released people. Most of them, a good number, through Skype or Zoom,” she added.
Today, Mombasa High Court Presiding Judge, Hon. Eric Ogola, delivered 23 judgements through the use of Skype Conference to the inmates in Shimo La Tewa Prison. pic.twitter.com/DCsdn4nArj
— The Judiciary Kenya (@Kenyajudiciary) March 30, 2020
The decision according to the chief registrar was made when it was announced that the virus had reached the Kenyan shores. There are now about 142 confirmed cases in the East African nation with 4 deaths and 4 recoveries so far.
The move is part of the social/physical distancing measures that have been put in place by many governments across the world now.
It’s not clear though how much of judiciary business has been taken online in light of the security challenges facing Zoom and some other video conferring platforms.
African nations have been seeing a gradual increase in the number of cases even though deaths by the virus has been on the low. Kenya has a population of about 50 million people while Nigeria which has a population of over 280 million people has 232 cases of the virus, 33 recoveries and 5 deaths so far. There is a lock down order in place in major cities like Abuja and Lagos as the government and private sector try to reduce the number of infections in major cities.
Please stay safe out there and maintain social distancing measures. Don’t forget to wash your hands often and call the doctor if you feel sick. If there’s a stay at home order in your city or state, please adhere to it.