During todays press conference by the cabinet secretary for Health, Hon. Mutahi Kagwe, it was announced that the Deputy Governor for Kilifi will be prosecuted after 14 days, for his reckless behavior and endangering the lives of Kenyans. This was after it was reported that the Deputy governor failed to comply with government directives regarding corona Virus.
According to the Library of Congress website, the Kenyan law provides directives on how to handle heath care emergencies and especially those of infectious diseases. As per the website,
“The PHA criminalizes certain acts that spread infectious diseases. Any infected person who, without proper precautions, willfully exposes himself “in any street, public place, shop, inn or public conveyance, or enters any public conveyance without previously notifying the owner, conductor or driver thereof” commits an offense and is, on conviction, subject to a fine of up to KES 30,000 (about US$337) and/or up to a three-year prison term. The same applies to a person tasked with caring for an infected person who exposes anyone to such person, and to a person who “gives, lends, sells, transmits or exposes” anything exposed to infection without first disinfecting the item. In addition, failure to properly disinfect any mode of transportation or dwelling exposed to an infection before transporting or leasing it to other people is an offense.”
The Public Health Act defines other powers given to national and county government that defines the limits and the scope of their authority in handling an infectious disease pandemic.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, says that general criminal statutes, such as reckless endangerment and attempted murder, can be used to criminalize behaviors that can potentially expose another to HIV and or an STD. This means that other infectious diseases such as Corona Virus can fall into the same category.
Additionally, the website says that the laws for the 50 states and the District of Columbia were assessed and categorized into five categories. These are;
- V-specific criminal laws criminalize behaviors that can potentially expose another to HIV.
- STD/communicable/infectious disease criminal laws criminalize behaviors that can potentially expose another to STD/communicable/infectious diseases. This might include HIV.
- Sentence enhancement specific to HIV are laws that do not criminalize a behavior but increase the sentence length when a person commits certain crimes while infected with HIV.
- Sentence enhancement specific to STD are laws that do not criminalize a behavior but increase the sentence length when a person commits certain crimes while infected with an STD. This might include HIV.
- No HIV criminalization laws.
Its imperative that we stay positive, calm and not do anything that will endanger the lives of those we love and the entire community. Wash your hands, practice social distancing and follow your governments directives.