High Court dismisses charges over ‘Kamata Kamata’ arrests on Friday – The Standard Health

Judge Lawrence Mugambi at the Milimani court. (File, Standard)

The High Court has dismissed a suit filed by the Law Society of Kenya seeking to force police to either produce suspects in court within 24 hours or grant them bail if they are arrested on a weekend or a holiday.

LSK had approached the court following the famous “kamata kamata” Fridays which took place during the mandate of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He argued that the arrests were intentionally aimed at settling political scores, as one of them would be taken away and placed in police cells until Monday, when he would be presented in court.

At the same time, the company accused the Inspector General of Police and the Chief Justice of abuse of power for allowing suspects to be held in police cells beyond the 24 hours required by law.

Judge Lawrence Mugambi, however, said the lawyers’ lobby group had not produced evidence that would prompt him to sanction the police and justice system.

“The applicant cannot expect the court to act on assumptions regarding allegations of abuse of power, the allegations were made without associating them with the required evidence,” Justice Mugambi said.

LSK was also aggrieved by the police displaying names and photos in the media before and after his arrest, arguing that the move amounted to public lynching and a violation of due process, as the people arrested were condemned in a public forum without being heard.

Justice Mugambi, however, said this argument was also not convincing. He said that judges and magistrates are sufficiently competent and cannot be influenced by statements made to the press and published on social networks.

Mugambi took a different position from that of Justice George Odunga (now a judge of the Court of Appeal) who held that the state’s arrests of suspects on Fridays and the application for detention orders in order to lead to well the investigations were unconstitutional and illegal.

Justice Odunga, in a case filed by trader Agnes Ngenesi who faced arrest over a vehicle dispute, observed that arresting citizens on Fridays in a bid to avoid producing them in court within the 24 hours required by law, amounted to an abuse of power.

In his 2020 judgment, the judge said Kamata Kamata Fridays actually took the country back to dark days when suspects were taken into custody without justification.

“Arresting a citizen on a Friday outside of business hours in order to avoid bringing him to justice before he has spent several days in detention without any justification for doing so, in my humble opinion, amounts to an abuse of power,” Odunga ruled.

“The practice which is unfortunately gaining ground in this country otherwise known as kamata kamata Friday, whereby suspects are deliberately arrested on Fridays and held in police custody over the weekend, must not be allowed to continue. implant,” ruled the judge.

In this case, Ngenesi complained that a vehicle she had hired in Uganda to transport her goods was stopped at the Kitui police station in December 2017. Police claimed the vehicle was transporting an unusual commodity.

The shopkeeper said she later learned that the police had filed a case against her and was therefore out on bail.

The court heard she was never summoned to police or released on bail. According to the woman, she claimed that a bribe of Sh50,000 which she refused to part with was at the center of her misfortune.

In the LSK case, Judge Mugambi heard that police had become accustomed to arresting people for uncognizable offenses on Friday afternoons and spending the weekend in cells.