Sex Offenders Locked Out Of State, Private Sector Jobs In New Bill

by Lawyer Alex

Hiring a sex pest or any person with history of committing a sexual offence will cost you a fine of Sh1 million or three years in jail as an employer.

The proposed stiff penalties are contained in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2020 sponsored by Kiambu Woman MP Gathoni Wamuchomba.

KEEP THEM IN CHECK: Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba.

The law would apply to teachers, social workers, health workers, prisons officers or any other persons whose jobs involve caring for other persons, handling children or any vulnerable person. 

Any employer – private and public – will have to confirm that a person seeking employment at their institutions has not been charged or convicted of a sexual offence.

“An employer who knowingly employs a convicted sexual offender in a position of care or access to children or any vulnerable person commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to fine not exceeding Sh1 million or both,” the Bill which is due for second reading states. 

Sexual offences remain a concern in both private and public sectors. A month ago, a police officer was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a Covid-19 patient.

Chief Justice David Maraga in April revealed that the cases constitute 35 per cent of criminal matters before court. Most cases collapse for lack of evidence – lost or tampered with. 

Healthcare professions, should Parliament enact the law, would thus be required to use sexual assault examination kits fitted with tracking devices.

The Bill seeks to provide for a procedure for collection, analysis, tracking and access to evidence for use in prosecuting sexual assault.

Wamuchomba seeks that survivors be examined for free, meaning the state would shoulder the costs related to the preparation of the test kits.

“The state shall bear all costs incurred for the examination of a victim of sexual assault for the purpose of gathering evidence,” the Bill reads.

Expenses related to preparing the sexual examination kit as well as conducting STI and pregnancy tests on the victim will be met by the government, as per the proposal.

The Bill proposes the development of an electronic sexual assault forensic evidence tracking system for real-time access to location of test kits.

The new system, Wamuchomba says, is to guard against loss of evidence which is blamed for the collapse of most sexual offences cases.

The Inspector General of Police will — within six months of the law coming into force — be required to develop the tracking system.

It will link up healthcare facilities, designated forensic laboratories where the kits are analysed, and law enforcement agencies.

“The system must allow a victim of sexual assault to anonymously track and receive updates regarding the status and location of his or her kit,” Wamuchomba says in the Bill’s memorandum. 

Records relating to the evidence, the Bill reads, will be accessed by a survivor from whom the evidence was collected; their parents or guardian — for minors.

Security and healthcare personnel handling the kit may also access the system for purposes of updating or tracking the status and location of evidence.

Those who violate the confidentiality of the system would be fined Sh1 million or serve 15 years in jail or both.

This would be in respect of actions such as causing the system to be accessed; sharing status of sexual assault to kit; and knowingly altering or destroying information contained in the system. 

To bolster evidence, health experts will be required to look for urine, blood, hair, fibre, nail chippings and mouth cells as samples to nail suspects.

Manufacturers, importers, or sellers of sexual assault test kits will be required to supply those that can be tracked.

Survivors will also have powers to demand police involvement in collection and handling of test samples.

CSs of Interior, Education, Health and Social Services will be required to within six months of enacting the law prepare regulations related to the Act.

The regulations will define implementation of the Act; standard contents of test kits; standard exam procedures; qualification of health workers; designated labs; and specification of the tracking devices.

The ministries are also to draw a design of the evidence tracking system; state confidentiality measures; and facilities linked to the system. 

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