Azimio to move to court over President Ruto’s pardon of 37 prisoners
Exercising powers granted to him through the Power of Mercy Act 2011, President William Ruto pardoned 37 convicts, allowing them the enjoyment of freedom before the expiry of their sentences.
According to the constitution of Kenya, the president can exercise that power on the recommendation of the consideration of petitions filed before the advisory committee on the Power of Mercy.
Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition says it is now moving to court to have the pardons reversed.
“That list is full of people who have stolen, people who have robbed and people who have raped children, those are the people we have forgiven,” lawyer Paul Mwangi said.
The opposition faults the Head of State for allegedly issuing the pardons without following due process and taking into consideration, the criteria and processes set out in the Power of Mercy Act which includes looking at the age of the offender and the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime.
These are whether the convict is a first offender, the nature and seriousness of the crime, how the convict has conducted himself post-conviction, his character and reputation and the interests of the state as well as the period of the sentence served which should not be less than a third of the sentence, the period of the sentence already served.
”One, for the criteria, is that you should have served at least a third of your sentence before your petition can be accepted, we have several instances on that list of people who had just started serving their sentences, or have not gone anywhere near a third of the sentences, we have people who have committed very serious offences, and the seriousness of the offence itself is also a criterion,” Mwangi said.
Azimio says the president in granting the pardons disregarded the provisions of the Act by failing to grant victims of the crimes a hearing as well as disregarding their feelings and without listening to the views and feelings of the public, they also say the pardons if left to stand will only serve to encourage the public to disregard the rule of law and encourage crime.
“We would want to establish that we don't breed impunity and the way to do that is to ensure that these powers can never be abused and that they are used for the right reasons,” added the lawyer.
Among those released under the Power of Mercy include former KEMRI director Davy Koech who was jailed for six years in 2021 after being found guilty of fraudulently acquiring public property.
Others on the list of 37 included convicts of murder and attempted defilement.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has also joined those asking for more transparency in the manner in which the power of mercy is exercised.
Speaking to Citizen TV on the phone, LSK president Erick Theuri said the lack of transparency in the manner in which the convicts were pardoned has added to the discomfort surrounding the recent exercising of this power.
He says the time is ripe for discussions around reviewing the Act to amongst other things, bring in a sense of professionalism and transparency in the workings of the advisory committee on the power of mercy committee.
Theuri further says the committee should, moving forward, give reasons for pardoning each petitioner.
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