Kenya’s Judiciary said on Thursday it has released 4,800 prisoners, who are serving sentences for petty offences to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.
David Maraga, Chief Justice, said the prisoners, who were serving jail terms of less than six months, have been released by the High Court in the last two weeks after review of their files.
“New inmates are being isolated to reduce the risk of infection and movement of inmates has been highly restricted.
“Prison visits have been suspended, including visits to the staff quarters.
“Prison labour has also been reduced to a bare minimum,’’ Maraga said in a statement issued on Thursday in Nairobi.
He said the move to isolate the inmates is in strict adherence to the safety measures put in place by the Health Ministry on coronavirus as regards to social distancing and hygiene standards.
The chief justice said the decision was also informed by the need to decongest Kenyan prisons in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
“The justice sector actors will embrace technology and plans are underway to enable inmates to participate in virtual trials as the prisoners are no longer being produced in open court,’’ said Maraga.
Kenya has so far confirmed 81 COVID-19 cases, three recoveries and one death amid stringent measures, including a night curfew and ban on international flights to help contain the spread of the virus.