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1,500 people charged with violating Covid-19 rules

Friday May 22 2020

A man who was arrested for violating Covid-19

A man who was arrested for violating Covid-19 rules disembarks from a police vehicle at Riruta Police Station in Nairobi on April 26, 2020. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MAUREEN KAKAH
By MAUREEN KAKAH
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At least 1,500 people have been charged in Nairobi courts with breaking Covid-19 rules.

These offences, which are breach of curfew orders, include failing to maintain physical distance of not less than 1.5metres and failing to wear face masks to cover the nose and mouth while in a public places.

Most of those offenders pleaded guilty and were fined between Sh200 to Sh1,000 before they were released. Those who failed to raise the fines were subjected to community service.

In a statement, the Judiciary said it set up two temporary courts at the Kasarani Stadium to handle cases related to violation of Covid-19 rules.  

SPREAD OF VIRUS

The said courts were set up on May 7 following deliberation between the Chief Justice, the Director of Public Prosecution and the Ministry of sports in a move aimed at curbing the spread of the virus within the corridors of justice.

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“As the Covid-19  cases are being prosecuted, the judiciary is maintaining  the Health ministry  regulations  by maintaining social distancing and at the same time ensuring that court users and accused persons have water, soap sanitisers and masks for prevention measures,” said Milimani Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi.

Since Kenya confirmed its first case of coronavirus, the Judiciary shut down court rooms and only gave room for few very cases for plea taking to be taken in open spaces.

Most cases are being heard online via platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft teams and Google meet as well as serving court orders via WhatsApp.

Even though there have been dissatisfaction from a faction of lawyers on the quality of judgments delivered via online platforms, most of them admit that they will have to cope up with delivering justice using technology as the new norm.

TECHNOLOGY

The Judiciary was previously reluctant to implement technology in delivering justice as initiatives started on the same had been stalling before the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 There were attempts to have virtual proceedings as of 2010 with some court rooms installed with television screens, cameras, stenographers, microphones and other audio systems as well as servers and computers that were to connect courts countrywide.

 In October 2014, former Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga established the Integrated Court Management System Committee (ICMS) whose objective was to midwife the process of actualising an efficient and effective Court Management System through ICT as well as advice on best practices.

 On May 6, Chief Justice David Maraga announced that a total of 7,000 judgments had been so far delivered ever since the judiciary shut down physical court rooms and embarked on delivering justice through use of technology.