Kenya: The quest for restorative justice – analysis
In recent assessments it has emerged that young people are contributors to certain types of violence in Kenya. It has been argued that young people “are being used” to perpetrate violence.
Asked why this is the case, some government administrative staff indicate unemployment as one factor, followed by idleness and substance abuse. Faith-based clerics, meanwhile, point to manipulation, a lack of gainful employment and easy money.
Asked why they themselves participate in acts of violence, young people point out that they have lack meaningful sources of livelihoods, and do anything they can to relieve themselves of the uncertainty they face.
Child Justice Act undercut from within
Even before it began the rocky climb through the parliamentary process, the Child Justice Bill was considered to be internationally path-breaking legislation. It was born in the euphoria of the early 1990s in a country where youth had been considered politically lethal, whipping was a sentence, imprisonment the standard response to wrongdoing and torture considered a legitimate interrogation method.
The new legislation sought to provide restorative justice by diverting child offenders from this punitive justice system and keeping them out of prisons, which simply hardened criminality. It devised ways to work with offenders and victims to restore harmony in the community where the crime took place. Punishment would be tailored to the crime and dealt in a way that maintained the self-respect of the offender as well as the approval of both community and victim.