The Council, chaired by the Chief Justice, wants the introduction of human rights friendly language, amendments to shift the burden of proof for the offences of incitement to violence and disobedience from accused persons to prosecution, and a repeal of petty offences.
The National Council on the Administration of Justice has proposed new changes to the Penal Code that would see the introduction of human rights friendly languages, amendments to petty crimes and crimes of incitement to violence.
NCAJ chaired by the Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Lady Justice Martha Koome wants the amendments done through the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Criminal Procedure code (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
In the proposals submitted to the National Assembly’s committee of Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights, NCAJ wants the Penal Code to be changed to among other things provide for human-rights-friendly language in relation to persons with intellectual and psychological disabilities as well as to remove the subjection of children sentenced in lieu of death penalty from detention at the President’s pleasure.
It also wants an amendment done to shift the burden of proof for the offences of incitement to violence and disobedience from the accused person to prosecution and to repeal petty offences.
The Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2023 also seeks to protect intersex persons affected by the criminal justice processes and to cascade offences of murder and robbery to ensure equal punishment for the different offences.
In addition, the proposed law also seeks to amend the provisions relating to the mandatory death penalty in compliance with the judgments of the High Court on the prevailing human rights standards.
The Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill, 2023 on the other hand, seeks to amend the Criminal Procedure Code, so that it conforms with the provisions of the Magistrate’s Courts Act, 2015.
This is in respect of ranks of magistrates, transfer of cases between magistrates, operational period of suspended sentences, and to make special provisions for trial and defense of persons with intellectual and psychological disabilities.
Gatanga MP Edward Muriu who is a member of the JLAHR committee noted that the review is timely, considering that the two provisions were enacted during the colonial period, and have become outdated in respect of today’s society, and therefore need to be relooked, in a bid to enact provisions tailored to the Kenyan people.
“Today’s societal problems and crimes necessitate a timely, consolidated reform of the criminal legal framework. Moreover, in the wake of social transformation through access to justice, the NCAJ is a key player in charting a suitable criminal law regime,” said Muriu.