COVID-19: Malindi prisoners attend court sessions via Skype

Two inmates from the Manyani prison speaking to journalists .Their counterparts at the Malindi GK prion have been forced to attend court sessions via Skype PHOTO COURTESY

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to force most people to stay indoors over fears of contracting the virus, prisoners at the Malindi GK prison have had to attend their court sessions via Skype.

Earlier in the week, authorities began hearing and determining cases using Skype where Magistrates and Judges link up with accused persons online.

Malindi High court Judge Reuben Nyakundi on Tuesday managed to issue 25 judgments via skype of condemned cases which had lagged.

Several convicts who had appealed against cases of robbery with violence and other cases were released while others did not succeed to get their sentences reduced or released.

Under the current setup, judiciary ICT officers collaborate with the prison ICT officers to ensure that a set up is put in place to allow the judge/magistrate and prisoner are linked via skype or zoom.

Justice Nyakundi said the use of technology is fast and will help in cutting costs and the risks involved with moving the suspects some who are charged with capital offenses from the prison to the courtroom.

”What I really see is that we have gotten an entry point to transform our sectors. I am very passionate about the court and when you listen to the opinions of most Kenyans concerning the court, most have long complained about delays,” he said.

He said people have been complaining about delayed judgments and this would be resolved once the judiciary turns to ICT.

Nyakundi said the reason they decided to hear the cases during the pandemic was to ensure they do not wait for long adding that it is also an opportunity to test the efficiency of the system.

Nyakundi added that the court plans to have handled 100 rulings by the end of the week.

This comes as the Chief justice David Maraga pushes courts to digitize in order to enhance efficiency.

Since the beginning of the month, more than 4800 petty offenders have been released via digital platforms such as Skype and Zoom as the prison service moves to decongest prisons in an effort to prevent a case of the pandemic ravaging the prison.