Kenya ruling lets sex abuse convicts challenge sentences
In a landmark ruling, a Kenyan judge has ordered that people convicted and imprisoned for defilement are at liberty to petition the High Court for a review of their sentences.
Defilement can include sexual acts with a child or an adult or incest committed by male persons.
High Court Judge John Mativo ruled that the guidance for minimum sentences was discriminatory.
“The mandatory minimum sentences violate an accused’s rights under Article 27 of the Constitution,” the ruling read.
Sentencing guidance say that defilement convicts should get a minimum of 11 years.
The ruling follows a petition to the court which argued that the mandatory minimum sentence provided for under the Sexual Offences Act impinged on the right to a fair trial guaranteed under Article 50 of the Constitution of Kenya.
Article 50 states: “Every person has the right to have any dispute that can be resolved by the application of law decided in a fair and public hearing before a court or, if appropriate, another independent and impartial tribunal or body.”
“We are likely to see suspects in custody instructing lawyers to have sentences mitigated and retried for resentencing,” lawyer John Lewis Onkendi told the BBC.
He added that the ruling means that judges and magistrates should have the liberty to impose the sentences they consider appropriate to the case.
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