Juvenile Injustice

Police Abuse and Detention of Street Children in Kenya

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In addition to the hazards of living on the streets, street children in Kenya are subject to frequent beatings, extortion, and sexual abuse by police. In violation of international law, they are rounded up and held for days or weeks in police lockups under deplorable physical conditions, commingled with adults and often beaten. Those who are brought to court are usually charged with vagrancy or are classified as being “in need of protection or discipline.” Pending adjudication of their cases, they are committed by courts to crowded remand institutions where they languish until their cases are decided. Without legal representation, these children may be finally committed by courts to correctional institutions called approved schools and borstal institutions, and prisons. Based on interviews with sixty children, this report documents the treatment of street children by police and in the juvenile justice system as a whole. Upwards of 40,000 street children live in Kenya. With their numbers on the rise, they are likely to continue to suffer violations of their rights, unless measures are taken to ensure better training and strict accountability of police, the judiciary, and staff of remand and correctional institutions.

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