ICJ campaign to decriminalize petty offences

By Njamiu Kiboi

In its deliberate engagement with residents and stakeholders on petty offences in Kenya, the International Commission of Jurists and the Kenya Human Rights Commission on Human Rights wants petty offences reviewed to ensure penal codes and laws enforced, comply with human rights standards.

Most of the time, enforcement of petty offences are said to negatively impact detention facilities, for instance, inmates overcrowding

A petty offence is defined as a minor crime which is generally punishable by a maximum sentence or fine, short term imprisonment or detention in a house of correction.

With reclassification, of petty offences, any offence that undermines human rights and is broad and vague should be decriminalized this is according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Some of the petty offences in Kenya include loitering, littering, idling, being drunk and disorderly and loitering with an intent to commit prostitution.

According to Roselyn Ogenyo, the chief magistrate city court whereas offences like prostitution satisfy the legal requirements of the law, they have been termed as discriminatory in nature since they target certain groups of people,

One of the commercial sex workers and a member of the ICJ taskforce “Alice Njeri” not her real name decries the violation they go through in the hands of police and the county askaris.

Thus, perhaps the review of the penal codes and enforced laws surrounding the offences might comply with human rights standards.