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Kenyan court stops police from posting photos of suspects on social media

RIGHTS | A Kenyan court has issued orders barring the Inspector of General of Kenya Police and the country’s Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) from posting photos of suspects on social media platforms.

The high court order follows a petition filed by a Nairobi resident, Henry Shitanda, who claims that posting of suspects’ images on social media before they are charged in court is unconstitutional.

The petitioner further argues that sharing of the images online not only humiliates the suspects but also infringes on the accused persons’ rights to privacy as enshrined in the constitution, according to a report on Citizen.

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In Uganda, the practice of posting pictures of suspects is almost a culture in the Police Force. Under Gen Kale Kayihura, it was much more than this. Most suspects were arrested and haphazardly paraded before the media before they would even be arraigned before court.

After Gen Kayihura’s sacking, his replacement Martins Okoth Ochola has tried to reduce on the practice, and the Uganda Police Force social media pages have made efforts to smudge photos to conceal identities of suspects.

However, the professionalism remains an observance in progress as more times photos are shared as is, much to the detriment of suspects and against the the rights of suspects.

Legally, the ramifications of publishing photos is that most times innocent persons end up being humiliated by the public yet there are very few avenues for seeking redress in such situations.

And such are the arguments advanced by Shitanda before a Kenyan court.

“The internet and social media have made booking photos more embarrassing and humiliating than ever before as the accused or suspects are entitled to privacy rights as enshrined in the constitution,” Citizen website quotes the affidavit before the Kenyan court as saying.

He avers that if not stopped, the booking photos as displayed on the DCI social media accounts may be used by other persons and shared to otherwise collect or solicit for its removal from the internet.

“The respondents should be made aware that even after suspects or accused in the criminal proceedings the booking photographs are available on the internet long after the case ends,” says the petitioner.

The restraining said orders were issued on Friday, December 7 by High Court judge Wilfrida Okwany, who certified the matter as urgent.

“That a conservatory order and be and is hereby issued restraining the Inspector of General Police and Director of Criminal Investigations from posting suspects and or accused person booking photographs and on the internet and social media and more and more specifically on the DCI Facebook and Twitter page pending the determination of the petition,” reads the court order.

The matter is set to be mentioned on March 5, 2019.

The Inspector of General Police and Director of Criminal Investigations have been named as respondents in the case.

Agencies

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