Riminal Justice Systems under Grant No. 90-BJ-CX-0002 from the...
riminal Justice Systems under Grant No. 90-BJ-CX-0002 from the Bureau
of Justice Statistics to the State University of New York at
The project director for the World Factbook of Criminal Justice
was Graeme R. Newman, but responsibility for the accuracy of the
information contained in each report is that of the individual
The contents of these reports do not necessarily reflect the
views or policies of the Bureau of Justice Statistics or the U.S. Department
I. Political System.
The Kenyan Independence Constitution of 1963
has features of both a unitary and federal state.
The Prime Minister is the executive head of
government with a cabinet that is collectively
responsible to the Parliament.
The Parliament is
composed of two chambers: The House of Representatives, which legislates for the people, and the
Senate, which controls the excesses of the House
of Representatives by judging which bills truly
reflect the interests of the nation as opposed to
promoting the interests of special interest
In the past, there have been Regional
Assemblies legislating for each region but
subordinate to Kenyan Parliament (Nelson, 1984;
Gertzel et.al., 1969; Bienen, 1974; Kamoche, 1981;
and Mungean, 1966).
Jomo Kenyatta was the first Prime Minister of
Kenya and subsequently was the first President of
the Independence Government of Kenya.
Kenyatta found the federal system of government to
be inappropriate for Kenya's multi-ethnic society.
Eventually, a unitary system of government was
introduced, and in 1964, Kenya was declared a
Republic (Gertzel et.al., 1969; Nelson, 1984;
Official Report, 1964).
As of 1993, Kenya is comprised of seven
non-autonomous provinces and the Nairobi capital
territory, although the country of Kenya remains a
member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
2. Legal System.
Kenya's legal system has evolved from the
inheritance of its English Common Law tradition.
The courts adhere to the principle of stare
decisis, and like other common law countries, the
legal system is adversarial in its procedure.
Theoretically, the suspect is presumed innocent
until proven guilty.
In practice, however, the
burden of proof is often placed on the defendant.
Kenya's customary courts and traditional
criminal procedures have been modified by the
Its court system
conforms with the British system of indirect rule
that had once existed when the colonial government
allowed local chiefs to rule the rural areas of
Kenya has an informal, customary criminal
This system is carried out by
local chiefs and a council of elders in remote
villages, where police and formalized courts are
not readily accessible.
The colonial government
and the post-independence governments have limited
the types of criminal cases that these local
chiefs and councils of elders can try, although
these informal courts often exceed the limits of
These informal courts help to
reduce the delays and backlog of cases occurring
at the formal customary courts and at the
3. History of the Criminal Justice System.
After Britain declared Kenya a Crown Colony,
the Colonial Parliament passed laws that in
effect, formed the basis of the criminal laws in
Some of the colonial criminal laws were
unacceptable to the Kenyan people, such as the
bigamy law, laws against stealing cattle, which
was an attack against Maasai beliefs and religion,
and tax evasion laws. (The Maasi is one of the
three major ethnic groups in Kenya, along with
the Kikuyu and the Kamba.
When Kenya was annexed and declared a
Crown Colony by Britain in 1921, the Kikuyu, the
Kamba and the Maasai launched stiff resistance
against British domination and rule. This fight
against British colonization resulted in the
Mau-Mau uprisings in the 1950s and led to Kenya's
independence from Britain (Gertzel et.al., 1969;
Kamoche, 1981; Leys, 1973; and Nelson, 1984)).
In time, Kenyans accepted the English laws to
the extent that these laws did not totally violate
their customary beliefs and values.
declaring independence in December of 1963, the
Kenya Independence Parliament revoked colonial
laws that were contrary to their values, such as
the bigamy law. As of 1993, the criminal laws of
Kenya are made up of both colonial laws that are
still in force and Acts of the post-independence
parliaments from the first Head of State, Nze Jomo
Kenyatta to the current Head of State, President
Arap Moi. Prior to 1990, it was very easy to pass
laws in the Kenyan Parliament because of its
unicameral system of government.
There was a
clear absence of long debates which characterize
multiparty systems in the passage of bills.
1990, however, after stiff resistance by the
government of President Arap Moi, the Kenyan
people voted to return to a multiparty system of
Since then, Kenya has had opposition
parties in the parliament in which the Kenya
African National Union (KANU) is a major party.
I. Classification of Crimes.
* Legal classification.
Kenya police classify
crimes into serious offenses and nonserious
Serious crimes include murder, robbery,
burglary, rape, kidnapping, and arson.
Non-serious crimes include petty theft (maximum
value of 20 USD), assault, stealing a neighbor's
domestic animal, and city and state regulation
* Age of criminal responsibility.
The age of
criminal responsibility in Kenya is 18. Persons 7
to 17 years old are treated as juveniles.
* Drug offenses.
Drugs such as cocaine, heroin,
and marijuana are prohibited by law.
2. Crime Statistics.
The following crime statistics on the number
of crimes reported to the police are provided by
Kenya Police Force Headquarters in Nairobi.
Police crime statistics are not recorded according
to regions or provinces and keeping crime
statistics according to ethnicity or tribe is
In 1989, the population of
Kenya was 23,727,000.
In 1989, there were 836 murders
reported to the police in Kenya, for a rate of
3.53 per 100,000 population.
of murders being reported has been
dropping since 1980. Numbers for the previous
years are as follows: 896 (1980); 878 (1981);
870 (1982); 860 (1983); and 851 (1988).
could be as a result of the following: a) There
is capital punishment for murder; b) Pri
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