Connect with us

Featured

There is an urgent need to make prison services more professional

Published

on

Loading...

By LETTER
More by this Author

Just a few years ago, Kenyan prisons were synonymous with wanton brutality and manifest mistreatment of both convicted and unconvicted offenders.

If your kin was incarcerated, it was enough if they came out alive. A prison sentence, no matter the length of incarceration, was deemed a death sentence.

However, that has changed over time, largely due to the intervention of human rights groups, with the famous Standard Minimum Rules being incorporated into mainstream prison rules of engagement.

Today, a minor dent on the body of a prisoner could attract the full wrath of human rights organisations and the compensation sought has the potential of financially crippling the Kenya Prisons Service.

Use of force must be measured and rational, barely enough to instil discipline.

It is a legal edict that, for any offender, imprisonment is enough punishment.

Since the abolition of the death sentence and corporal punishment, the law does not envisage a situation where any form of violence would be used within the prisons establishment, even in the instance of a riot or standoff.

It is the sole duty of a prison officer to first and foremost hold the offender in safe custody, then ensure fair administration of justice, rehabilitation and social reintegration. But it is the latter duties that are most challenging.

Recently, the country has witnessed some of the most devastating and grotesque aspects of criminality.

We have seen demented criminals bestride our social space like a colossus, leaving lifeless and mutilated bodies of innocent Kenyans in their wake.

Loading...

Even members of the disciplined services have not been spared with several of them caught up in the web of crime and are facing charges in court.

These criminals are very sick — psychopaths. Logically, imprisonment would do very little to modify their behaviour and the prison officer is not equipped with the necessary psychological tools.

They will serve time in jail, pretend to be reformed, and when they are eventually released, we will witness the all-too-familiar vicious cycle of crime. It would be a waste of precious and scarce government resources.

The government, not-for-profit organisations and well-wishers need to pool resources and provide in-service prison officers with the necessary tools to combat what is, obviously, a daunting task.

Psychologists, researchers and behaviour modification enthusiasts need to visit prisons more often. They need to invest their time and resources in offering solutions to the difficult task of rehabilitation.

Prisons must continue to be havens of hope, transformation, reformation and rehabilitation.

Professionalising the service goes beyond and above merely training officers. Their remuneration must induce them to go beyond the call of duty.

They must be firm enough to instil discipline and maintain peace and also be empathetic to influence change.

While keen to take care of prisoners, the service must not neglect the prison officer’s sanity and mental well-being in the thick of things.

Therefore, coping skills and post-traumatic stress debriefing must also form part of government intervention.

Loading...
Continue Reading

Featured

Our wizards saw the Brave New World, but none saw coronavirus

Published

on

Loading...

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO

Last year in December, Nation Media Group held its first Kusi Ideas Festival in Kigali. The festival tried to peer ahead the next 60 years in Africa.

There were many Brave New World ideas about how that future might look like, and also the perils that progress almost always brings. Needless to say, no one saw Covid-19 coming.

A futurist curtain-raiser in The EastAfrican, titled Africa in 2079, came close to outlining a mirror universe to the one Covid-19 is bequeathing us.

Between London, Zimbabwe, and the corners of Africa where Econet’s fibre optic network reaches, Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless and former chair of the board of AGRA wrote:

“I recently invested in a tech start-up that has created an Uber-like platform for tractors, enabling farmers to link up with a central database and order a tractor via SMS…freeing the farmer from the drudgery of the hoe. This service is particularly valued by women farmers, enabling them to circumvent social norms that might otherwise hamper their ability to hire a tractor.” From wherever we are hiding from the virus, unable to roam the farm, Uber farming could be the new way a lot of our food is produced.

Loading...

From Tanzania, Aidan Eyakuze, who is executive director of Twaweza East Africa and has been confined in-country as an elegant prisoner for nearly two years because of his love of inconvenient data, painted an intoxicating but strange utopian-dystopian picture of Africa at the end the century.

Advertisement

By 2079, he foresaw the “vast majority of Africans earn their living through multiple micro-tasking (MMTs) ever since every ”job” was unbundled into its component tasks…leaving only those unbundled micro-tasks needing social intelligence, creativity or dexterity to be done by people. All ”taskers” are always-on private contractors who bid relentlessly for the privilege of tasking.

Incomes are kept low by the relative scarcity of tasks requiring the human touch.

“The unrelenting competition for tasks is both stressful and socially divisive — you are competing against everyone all the time…even marriages have renewable term limits, ‘in case someone better comes along.’” With work-from-home regimes, the former has come 78 years earlier.

Indeed, even for the latter, more people now probably think being cooped up with the same man or woman in the house “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part,” is a very archaic model.

Between Italy and Kenya, the Society for International Development’s Arthur Muliro, peered into a what a truly borderless Africa might look. Among others, his gaze settled on, of all places, Libya.

“Libya…was now welcoming other Africans and allowing them to settle. The peace deal that had come after a decade of civil war was holding and there was new optimism, in part boosted by the arrival and expansion of new migrant groups who had settled there and were helping rebuild their adopted country.”

On a close re-reading, turns out Aidan hinted that Turkey, which jumped in the Libyan fray as the coronavirus made its way out of Wuhan, might have something to do with it.

Loading...
Continue Reading

Featured

Stadiums progress welcome – Daily Nation

Published

on

Loading...

By EDITORIAL

Loading...

Last week, the Sports ministry’s top officials, led by Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor Hassan and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo traversed the country to access the ongoing construction of stadiums.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also made an impromptu tour of the Nyayo National Stadium to ensure that all is well besides giving Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed full support. That has made sure that renovation works resume at all the stadiums — including Kasarani, Nyayo, Kipchoge Keino, Kamariny and Wote — and that everything is running on schedule.

Upon completion of some of these arenas, the country will have positioned itself to host major world events, especially in football, athletics and basketball. The ministry must, therefore, ensure that, while it has given contractors an ultimatum to finish their work, it also insists on quality delivery.

But there are concerns about work at county stadiums, especially in Mombasa, where those who redesigned the arena have done away with the internationally approved running track.

The new stadium has been designed for football only hence won’t host any track and field events. The four lane track will only be for warm up and this has raised eyebrows.

Mombasa County Chief Sports Officer Innocent Mugabe said Bububu grounds in Likoni and Kenya Ports Authority’s Mbaraki Sports Club will be upgraded for sports use. Mombasa being at low altitude, it is suitable for staging major World Athletics events, having staged the 2007 World Cross Country Championships.

Advertisement

Kenya is bidding to host the 2025 World Championships in Athletics and Mombasa can easily be the venue with a good stadium in place. There is still time to build a county stadium.

Loading...
Continue Reading

Featured

Ensure reopening of schools runs smoothly

Published

on

Loading...

By EDITORIAL

Loading...

When Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha announced a fortnight ago the postponement of school reopening to January next year, he gave an exception. Universities, teacher training colleges and technical training institutions were directed to be ready to reopen in September.

Consequently, they were asked to put in place safety measures prescribed by the Health ministry, including reorganising classrooms and hostels to ensure social distancing. Just a month to the planned reopening, are those institutions really prepared?

In the past few days, Prof Magoha has convened meetings with the heads of the institutions to plan for the reopening and visiting the colleges to assess their preparedness. Preliminary reports from these engagements indicate that just a few institutions are ready.

POOR STATE

At the university level, so far, only Strathmore has been declared ready for reopening. Ensure reopening of schools runs smoothly

For teachers’ colleges, three — Murang’a, Kibabii and Kericho — have met the threshold. Assessment is ongoing for the technical training institutions.

Advertisement

But the broad observation is that most of the institutions are not ready. Though not surprising, most of them are ordinarily in poor state and Covid-19 has just exposed them. Beyond the situation, long-term actions are required to revamp and revitalise them.

Reopening the colleges in September will be the starting point for relaxing restrictions in the education sector. The reason for beginning with colleges is that they have mature students who understand the health protocols and can, therefore, take care of themselves and minimise infections. Their experience would then inform plans for reopening primary and secondary schools.

REPEAT CLASSES

Closure of schools and colleges has dealt a huge blow to education. Learners in schools have lost a whole year and have to repeat classes next year. This comes with high social, economic and psychological. Indeed, this is the first time in history that schools are being closed for a year.

The last time the education sector suffered most was in 1982, when, following an abortive coup, the University of Nairobi and then-Kenyatta University College were closed for nine months. That created a major backlog and that took five years to clear. This is the reason steps should be taken at the earliest opportunity to mitigate the damage.

The challenge, therefore, is for the colleges to work on those health protocols to prepare for reopening. All other sectors, such as transport and tourism, are reopening and, therefore, colleges have no reason to lag behind. We ask the management of the institutions to expedite the required processes and get ready for reopening in September as directed.

Loading...
Continue Reading

Trending