The Youth stance on the law and justice system in Kenya
The University of Nairobi Student Association (UNSA) in collaboration with the Office of the Dean of Students and the Youth Safety Awareness Initiative organized a forum on law enforcement and youth relationships. The forum provided an opportunity to deliberate on various ways to resolve disputes peacefully given the animosity between the students and law enforcement. The goal is to improve the relations between the police and the public, not just the youth.
Speaking at the gathering, Mrs. Mary Mwenje the representative for the Director, Public Prosecutions, Mr. Noordin Haji, highlighted the troubling statistics of youth engaging in criminal activities.
“All around the world, the frequency and seriousness of youth crime is on the rise and Kenya is no exception to this with majority of pretrial detainees and the prisons population being composed of the youth. As such, there is need for collaboration effort to tackle this trend and such forums are of particular importance.”
While Director, Corporate Affairs, University of Nairobi (UoN), Mr. John Orindi shared the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama’s message:
“The Vice-Chancellor shared a message that you have the freedom to do whatever you do because the hallmark of a university is about freedom of expression and freedom of association but the university will not shield you from criminal activities. If you engage in crime and criminal activities then law enforcement agencies will come for you. The University will not shield you from the law enforcement agencies if you engage in criminal activities."
On his part John Waiganjo, Commissioner, Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), noted that Authority was always on the lookout in situations of civil distress to ensure that the police carry themselves according to human right laws.
“IPOA sends out investigators to monitor the police during strikes. We don’t come to protect students but we are on a fact finding mission on the interaction between students and police officers.”
Mr. Waiganjo informed the audience that IPOA was trying to improve the welfare of police officers because they operate under very strenuous circumstances.
While the Dean of Students, UoN, Mr. Johnson Kinyua, was glad that the violent engagement between University of Nairobi students and the Kenyan Police was a thing of the past. He encouraged the students to be civil in their dealings with law enforcement officers.
“We need a new normal at the University of Nairobi, some of us are not getting jobs because the impression we have created out there is that all students of the University of Nairobi are violent and the police, your immediate neighbours have this suspicion that you could be planning something.” Said Crime Si Poa’s representative, Mr. Peter Ouko.
Nathan Kikwai, Secretary General, UNSA, “This is a chance to interact with the police. This institution borders the main police station and most of the time we will be interacting with these officers and the law enforcers at large, so we need to have a relationship that is not cold.” They are human being like us and most of the time, when we break some rules, we have to face the consequences of our wrong doings.
Mr. Kikwai was glad that the university had channels that ensure amicable solutions to issues such as drug peddling and break out of fights on the halls of residence.