Without a shadow of doubt, the child justice system in Kenya is most ripe for reforms, in the nice liberal sense of the word, simply because there’s no getting around the fact that a child’s brain is not an adult brain.
Be that as it may, Kenya has made great strides in this regard through ensuring a significant majority of pieces of legislation that relates to the criminal justice system have a provision on children, key theme being promotion and protection of their rights. For purposes of this particular piece, we will dwell more on National Police Service Standing Orders as they make rather pertinent provisions touching on children in conflict with the law.
Down to specificity, chapter 46 of the National Police Standing Orders provides for freedom against torture, cruel treatment or punishment for children; freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty; affirmation that children offenders should be detained separately from adults; acknowledging that children should be provided with legal aid at the state’s expence among others.
From a procedural perspective, the Standing Orders provides that interrogation for children should only be done in presence of a legal representative and on matters of transport, children should not be transported together with adults unless the adult is an accomplice, a guardian or a relative. To safeguard children against criminal record tag, the standing orders makes a provision for maintenance of a separate record and most importantly, ensuring girls who are minors are put under the care of a female police officer including during transport to court and back.