Nairobi County Women Representative Esther Passaris has lashed out on the harsh penalties that are meted out on muggers in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya, terming the long jail terms, mob justice incidences and extra-judicial killings meted out to muggers unnecessary.
Speaking while addressing some gang members in Kayole, Passaris argued that gang members needed to be protected as most of them were just trying to survive and put food in their mouths, some of them with families to feed.
She said that muggers are at risk from the public, police and courts, and while they have done a lot to educate the public about the dangers of mob justices, police continue to shoot the muggers while the courts also end up giving them long jail terms which does not help the situation.
“We need to start by making laws that decriminalize mugging in the city because these young men are simply trying to survive,” she said. “The current laws have not done anything to stop the muggers but instead have forced the muggers to operate in dark corners and at night. The first step we need to do is to make mugging legal, then see how we can help the young men get more sustainable livelihoods by creating jobs.”
Passaris also argues that once mugging is made legal, incidences of the same are likely to decrease because members of the public are going to arm themselves and take precautions to stay safe while in the streets. She argued that the current criminalization has made Nairobians complacent, expecting the government to protect them, something that rarely happens.
Human Rights activists have backed the move, saying that criminalizing the act of mugging has led to many young boys in parts of Nairobi getting shot by the police and also suffering mob justice. They said that will lobby for the Bill that Passaris intends to table in parliament.
The suggestion is likely to raise a debate among Kenyans who do not understand the basics of human rights, but Passaris is hopeful that it will be implemented. She sees it as the greatest contribution she can give to the city as a representative in charge of special interest groups.