by Njoroge Kaburo
NAIROBI, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday that his government has put in place measures to curb radicalization and violent extremism in prisons.
Kenyatta said major steps have been made in collaboration with the National Counter-Terrorism Centre to improve training curriculum for staff and rehabilitation programs for inmates to check the vice in the correctional institutions.
"A multi-agency task force, which I appointed to assess the capacity of Kenya Prisons Service, has concluded its assignment and presented the report for further review - which we will shortly be undertaking," he said during the passing out parade of 2,699 prisons recruits in Ruiru, about 20 kms east of Nairobi.
The police say extremists are now targeting young people who are members of a particular youth groups like the football clubs and convert Christians to Muslims. They entice them with money and a promise of better lives ahead.
According to the police, some of the terror attacks in the country have been committed by Kenyans who joined the terror groups such as Al-Shabaab who have resorted to recruiting young Kenyans to join the group.
One of the gunmen involved in the Garissa University terror attack that killed 147 people in April 2015 was a young promising Kenyan lawyer.
The dynamic of terrorism in Kenya is that while in the past the perpetrators were exclusively foreigners, there is a growing number of Kenyans who have joined foreign terrorist organizations like Al-Shabaab and have staged low key attacks inside Kenya according to arrests and prosecutions made against some of the Kenyan terrorists.
Several Kenyans have been arrested while crossing over into Somalia to receive terrorism training or when they are returning from the Al-Shabaab training camps in Somalia to stage attacks.
Kenyatta said prison institutions are required to offer not only retributive justice but also the prospect of reform to reduce crime, stem radicalization and ensure security in the country.
"Our justice system exists not just to punish offenders or to deter possible offenders from doing wrong; it exists also to encourage those who have done wrong to change, and to once more contribute meaningfully to society," he said.
The president also directed Interior Cabinet Secretary and the Commissioner of Prisons to liaise with the Chief Justice regarding petty offenders to see if they could be released to decongest prison cells.
Kenyatta observed that some of the petty offenders have stayed longer in remand cells than they would have served jail terms if their cases were heard and determined.