Kindiki reinstates family visits to prisoners to end a ban started during Covid pandemic

Chuka Prison

Inmates at Chuka Prison in Tharaka Nithi County during a past event.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The government has lifted a four-year ban on prison visits that was imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 to prevent the spread of the virus.

The ban was imposed after the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Kenya in March 2020. It was originally intended to last for 30 days, but was extended and has not been lifted.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on Wednesday ordered the resumption of regulated family visits in all correctional facilities across the country, saying there was no need for the ban to remain in place as Covid-19 was no longer a threat.

Speaking at Naivasha Maximum Prison, the CS said the move will now pave the way for thousands of inmates to reunite with their families.

According to him, the programme, which will see inmates meet their loved ones every six months despite being behind bars, will start next month.

"We will resume family reunions and family visits in all our facilities including all other maximum security prisons, the pandemic is now over, we have lifted the ban. Now the inmates will have a chance to reunite with their families," he said.

Addressing the inmates, CS Kindiki praised the ongoing rehabilitation in the prisons and said that the government was committed to reducing congestion by 50 per cent.

He said plans were underway to establish a Prisoners' Enterprise Fund, which would be useful in assisting inmates when they leave prison.

The CS noted with concern the high number of elderly prisoners, adding that the Power of Mercy Commission would be useful in addressing their plight.

During the visit, the CS inaugurated the Naivasha GK prison maize mill which has the capacity to grind 100 bags of maize per day.

The Naivasha prison officer in charge, Mr Hassan Tari, said the facility, which is the largest in the country, has over 2,300 inmates.