Court says prisoners have right to attend relatives' funerals


Inmates at the Kamiti Maximum Prison.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The High Court has ruled that prisoners and detainees have the right to attend funerals of their loved ones.

In a victory for people serving sentences in prisons and detention centres, Justice Lawrence Mugambi said prisoners had a right to be treated humanely, including being allowed to attend the funerals of their loved ones.

However, the judge said the right was not absolute and the request could be denied depending on the circumstances.

The court made the ruling in a petition filed by Moses Dola Otieno, a journalist serving time for the murder of his wife, Wambui Kabiru.

Dola accused the prison authorities of failing to make arrangements to allow prisoners to attend the funerals of their loved ones and close relatives. He claimed that he was not allowed to bury his mother.

Judge Mugambi allowed part of the petition and directed CS Home Affairs Kindiki Kithure to make regulations to guide the Persons Deprived of Liberty Act, which was enacted in 2014.

The magistrate said allowing prisoners and detainees to attend funerals has a calming effect and is beneficial to their wellbeing.

"The death of a close relative is the most difficult and prisoners are no exception," the judge said. 

Attorney General Justin Muturi and the CS had opposed the petition, arguing that it would put a strain on the already strained prison budget.