New law raises age of accountability from 8 years to 12 years in Kenya

Any child below 12 years in Kenya is now considered incapable of committing a criminal offence

Chief Justice Martha Koome speaks during the Law Society of Kenya Annual Conference on July 8, 2022

President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed a new law stating that a child below 12 years shall not be charged in court for a criminal offense.

"A person under the age of twelve years shall not be criminally responsible for any act or omission and that a child who commits an offense while under the age of fourteen years shall be presumed not to be capable of differentiating between right and wrong unless the Court is satisfied on evidence to the contrary," the Children's Act 2021 now reads.

The new law also highlighted that children charged with petty violations will be committed to a community-based system in place of court systems.

Chief Justice Martha Koome has also been given the mandate by law to set up Children's Courts in every county and sub-county and assign a magistrate who will preside over major children cases.

The law also directs the Inspector General of Police to set up Child Protection Units in every police station and to provide friendly conditions for children who have committed an offense.

The introduction of kinship adoption where relatives can adopt a child without legal issues and a child welfare fund are among the new ideas the law has set up for children.

The adjustments from the Children Act of 2001 are meant to deal with the issues affecting children and to protect minors against violations.

Editor's Note: Cases of child disappearance or abuse can be reported to DCI’s Anti Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit for action through the number 0800 722 203.

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