Over 200 child cases will be handled during the Service Week for Children Matters at Nakuru Law Courts.
Nakuru Chief Magistrate Godfrey Oduor who presided over the opening of the five days service week on Monday said 255 cases have been listed for hearing.
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Oduor in his address said justice shall not be delayed as child based interest are of paramount importance. He added that children are a foundation of the society and should be allowed to be in class and not part of the justice system.
“A child based interest are of paramount importance and children being the foundation of the manner in which we handle them maters,” said Oduor.
The opening ceremony brought together members of Law Society of Kenya, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, United States Embassy, National Council for Administration for Justice, Children Department among others.
The theme of the service week being ‘Children should be in class and not in the Justice System’ parents and guardians were urged to take advantage of the five days and resolve as many cases as possible.
Prosecutor Sandra Kosgey said children should be taken to court and have them testify warning parents of negotiating to withdraw defilement cases.
“Bring your children to testify that we may handle their cases. Cases such as defilement are not meant for withdrawal and the law does not allow, avoid negotiating such cases,” said Ms Kosgei who noted that some parents use their children to get money.
She further warned parents of neglecting their children as is a crime and the law will take its course.
National Council for Administration for Justice Representative Ann Thiong'o asked parents to avoid being in court over child maintenance and instead settle such cases out of court. She noted that mediation should be sought and such matters resolved instead of allowing the matter drag in court.
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LSK Rift Valley Chapter President Ochang’ Ajingo noted that the law on defilement does not favor men and said there is need for amendment.
Ajingo said in instances where the both the accused and the victim are minors, the boy ended up suffering more than the girl.
He noted that the man in such instances end up in the cells as the lady continue with education.
“We will handle all the cases involving the children including cases involving children who are victims, witnesses, accused and complainants,” Said Nakuru Senior Resident Magistrate Joe Omido.
Omido said 13 magistrates have been assigned to tackle over 10 criminal cases, civil cases and protection and care cases each day to warrant that they are completed by the end of the week.
“Each magistrate has about 10 criminal cases each day, some are handling civil cases while others are handling protection and care cases,” added Omido.
United States embassy representative, Stacy De La Torre assured Kenyans of their support in handling children cases through funding and pushing for faster cases solving and also echoed the good governance of the Kenyan Justice department in handling cases.
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“Kenya is a stable nation which handles criminal cases with stability. The United States is willing to help courts to act fair, have balance and be just and concerned for the children’s rights,” said Torre.
Parents have however been blamed of failing to take care of their children.
Probation Officer Scholastica Kongani said parents are the problem as some have even visited their offices seeking to have their children kept in their hostels.
The parents allegedly claim the children are becoming a burden and wondered how a class two will not be manageable asking the state to take him and or her.
Kongani said parents should cooperate and take responsibility of taking care of their children.