A man has gone to court to fight for prisoners’ right to vote in all elective posts in a general election.
Mr Wilson Kinyua has sued the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Kenya Prisons Service and the Attorney-General, seeking to have prisoners allowed to vote for all elected leaders.
Currently, prisoners can only vote in the presidential election.
Mr Kinyua says the decision to allow prisoners to only vote for the president in general elections is a violation of their right to participate in elections.
According to him, prisoners remain imminently exposed to a repeat violation of the same right in the next general election should the court fail to deal with the matter.
“The logistical excuse for the denial or for such extent of limitation of right was not reasonable and justifiable. Prisoners, just like other electorates, are entitled to local leadership that may enhance their registration and social security after serving their sentences” said Mr Kinyua.
In 2013, a similar suit was taken before the corridors of justice by Kituo Cha Sheria where the court directed the IEBC to put in place measures to ensure that prisoners are registered to vote in general elections.
High Court Judge David Majanja declared that prisoners are entitled to be registered as voters and have the right to vote under the Constitution.
The IEBC complied but limited voting for prisoners to the presidential vote only.
However, prison officers who had registered as voters were also affected by the directive hence only voted for the president.
Mr Kinyua alleged that prisons are categorised as diaspora polling stations yet they are located within the Kenyan borders.
He also alleged that the decision to limit prisoners’ participation in general elections did not involve them in the first place.
He argued that the State has the responsibility, through prison authorities, to provide prisoners at their respective polling stations in the same way they are usually taken to court for their cases.
Mr Kinyua wants it declared that prisoners, just like any other citizens, have the right and freedom to choose to be registered in any part of the country where they are being detained.
He also wants the court to declare that prison authorities have the responsibility to facilitate prisoner’s right to vote by taking them to polling stations.
He further wants it declared that prisoners must henceforth be facilitated to exercise their right to vote in all the elective positions in subsequent general elections.