The Kenya Prisons Service draws its mandate from Chapters 90 (Kenya Prisons Act) and 92 (Borstals Act) of the Laws of Kenya.
Presently, the population stands at 54,000 inmates of which about half of that (46%) are remandees and the other half (54%) are convicts.
HAKI Africa, a leading human rights organization in the country, has been working on prisons issues since it's inception in 2013.
Prisons have always heavily featured in human rights advocacy work due to the grave issues of torture and violations that have emanated from the prison walls.
Reports indicate that cases of torture are prevalent in Kenya Prisons.
Recently, HAKI Africa followed up a case in which a prison warder was involved in torturing an inmate and injuring him severely in his private parts and forcing the inmate to require serious medical attention.
Inmates in both remand and those convicted have perennially complained of torture while in prisons precincts.
Cases of sodomy by both warders and fellow inmates have also been reported.
A report commissioned a few years ago confirmed that sodomy is rife in Kenyan prisons.
Warders have been accused of forcing inmates into sodomy in order to proffer preferential treatment.
Whether it's increased portions of food or reduced hard labour, inmates are forced to pay through sodomy.
Amongst inmates, sodomy is forced and/or for protection. While consensual anal and oral sex is also real, some inmates are also raped by colleagues. Rape is rife in both male and female prisons.
HAKI Africa has been following up on these issues and a recent visit to Hindi Prisons (in Lamu County) in partnership with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in March 2019, unearthed new issues to be followed up.
The visit by Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji also saw judges setting up mobile courts at the prisons for a week where tens of cases were heard and determined while several inmates released.
HAKI Africa is working with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution to ensure similar efforts are made to reach out to all prisons in the country.
As a human rights organization, HAKI Africa is calling on the Ministry of Interior to prioritise prisons and ensure human rights concerns are addressed.
The Haki Africa Executive Director spoke to the Star