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Bill to set up coroner’s office approved by Cabinet

Currently, the police are supposed to investigate deaths in relation to crime and send results to the magistrates for further action.

The Coroner who will be based in each county, will have the power to collect forensic evidence in relation to a particular incident.

Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill that will see the establishment of an agency that will investigate formal deaths in Kenya.

The National Coroners Services Bill 2016, which establishes a legal framework for reporting, investigating and documenting unnatural deaths in Kenya has for years been anticipated for, by human rights organizations.

The bill which will now be subject to parliamentary approval, establishes the office of the National Coroner, who will have the jurisdiction to investigate the cause of death where the deceased person died in law enforcement custody and in sudden or unnatural death scenarios.

Currently, the National Police Service is charged with investigating the deaths but human rights organizations have previously criticized commitment of the police, especially when their colleagues are involved.

If parliament approves the bill and it is passed to law, the Coroner will investigate and forward his findings directly to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, ODPP or if a person died in police custody the file will be forwarded to the Inspector General of Police and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, IPOA.

Earlier in June, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and 15 other human rights bodies wrote a letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta asking him to help expedite the enactment of the Coroner’s bill and the Protection against torture bill 2014.

They asked the President to enact the Bill to enable credible and independent medical investigations for all mysterious deaths in Kenya.

“The absence of a Coroner’s office to conduct independent investigations into the cause of suspicious deaths will continue to hinder access to justice for the families of the victims,” they said in the petition.

Attorney-General Githu Muigai last year had said that there were several deaths, including high-profile ones, that have not been investigated adequately because of weak laws.

Prof Muigai was on Tuesday directed by the Cabinet, to table it in parliament for debate.

“The establishment of this service will reflect on the reassurance given to society by such independent action and mirror the great value on the right to life specified in the constitution,” the cabinet said.

Apart from the National Coroners Service Bill, 2016, the cabinet also approved the Moveable Property Security Rights Bills 2016, which will provide for the creation of an electronic registry, enhance confidence of the lending institutions and create an enabling environment to lend against moveable assets as collateral.

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs will be the greatest beneficiaries of the reforms that will now go to parliament for debate.

The bill will allow lending to a group that has previously struggled to access credit, and the economy to benefit from the immense potential that MSMEs have in driving economic growth.

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