Prison Scandal

Kenya's penal system is under fire after a surprise visit to a prison by a delegation of distinguished jurists found conditions every bit as squalid as human-rights activists and former inmates alleged. The jurists' findings, and a report by a United Nations' human-rights inspection mission in October, made headlines and were the subject of scathing editorials.

The independent Standard of Nairobi, describing medieval conditions where inmates go naked for lack of prison uniforms, said in an editorial (Nov. 5): Those who directly run the prisons or whose work frequently takes them to these institutions should have raised the alarm years ago. Kenya's prisons are ­criminally mismanaged institutions. The rot that has spread to all other sectors and spheres of our national life has not spared the prisons.
Furthermore, the paper added, prisoners are meant to lose their liberty for a specified period of time but not their dignity and humanity for even two minutes.

The conditions in Kenyan jails are inhuman, an assault on common decency and the values of civilized society, commented the independent Sunday Nation of Nairobi (Oct. 10). People of conscience in government and in the judiciary know what must be done before it is too late for the nation to reclaim its self-respect.