Kenyan High Court Denies Prisoners Pay Rise

The High Court in Kenya has dismissed a petition seeking to increase prisoners’ wages that have been dormant since 1979.

Three ex-inmates filed the petition four years ago, arguing that current prison laws deprived them of basic human dignity and subjected them to slavery.

The three noted that the government currently pays less than $1 (Ksh102) a year – something that has not been revised since 1979.

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Kenyan Prisoners

One petitioner, Aloys Onyango, said he had not been paid his wages after 16 years in prison and wanted the prison authorities to be compelled to do so.

But the judge dismissed the petition on the grounds that under current laws the prison payment scheme was at the discretion of the commissioner of prisons and not an entitlement.

The petitioners have said they will appeal the judgment.

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In 2018, Inmates and the Prisons Department locked in a court row over pay, with the prisoners pushing for an increase on the Sh0.20 daily salary and prompt payment.

Section 5 of the Kenya Prisons Service standing orders provides that the earning rates shall be 20 cents for grade A (prisoners with exemplary conduct and are skilled), 15 cents for grade B (good conduct and semi-skilled), and 10 cents for grade C (prisoner not in grade A or B).

“As it is, prisons earning rates are a provision of the law and the commissioner does not have the mandate to amend, revise or vary the scheme as provided,” the commissioner-general of prisons states in court papers.



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