One of the cardinal principles of justice is that suspects are deemed innocent until proven guilty. It is the constitutional right of every suspect to be taken through due process. This is a useful safeguard to ensure that people are not held in custody on trumped-up charges.
There have been cases of people who were wrongfully arrested and kept behind bars for years, only for their innocence to be confirmed after undergoing a lot of irreversible suffering. Lives have been wrecked and some suspects have died in custody, carrying their innocence to their graves.
If the justice delivery system were to ensure speedy determination of cases, then brief incarceration, though unfair to the innocent, can be justified. It affords even them an opportunity to offload the imposed burden of guilt. They can also seek redress and compensation in the same courts for wrongful detention. Sadly, the wheels of justice often move too slowly.
However, there has also been abuse of the bail system, with some hardcore criminals using that opportunity to escape justice. This is the situation the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) has found itself in over two suspects. One is believed to have been involved in the smuggling to the United States of ivory and elephant tusks valued at Sh200 million. He was arrested in Busia in 2019, brought to Nairobi, where he was arraigned and released on Sh200,000 bail. He took advantage of that window to flee justice. And this despite being required to report to the detectives every fortnight until conclusion of his case. The US Government has offered a $2 million (Sh233 million) reward for information leading to the capture of the key suspect and his alleged accomplice.
Such collaboration between governments and security agencies is essential in fighting international crime. However, the DCI and other law enforcement agencies need to up their game in pursuit of the criminals, as the courts speed up hearing of cases. The masterminds and their accomplices deserve prompt punishment.