Petition seeks to scrap police certificate

Thursday, August 19th, 2021 00:12 |
National Speaker Justin Muturi. Photo/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Hilary Mageka and Anthony Mwangi 

Job-seekers with a past criminal record will not be compelled to produce the Police Clearance Certificate as well as the sealing and permanent obliteration of criminal records after the fifth year of offence.

A petitioner has moved to Parliament seeking to have the legal requirement abolished to allow young job seekers, who might have their records taken for having criminal history apply for jobs. 

Under the law, such records are cleared from an offender’s registry after 20 years. This means a person with past criminal record cannot apply for a job, until after the lapse of the statutory 20-year period.

Certificate of Good Conduct is a legal requirement that any job seeker should possess before applying for employment in public service.

The petitioner, Susan Wangui from Kirinyaga county, says that the requirement is not  statutory but one that infringes on their constitutional rights to privacy since it exposes the job seeker’s past criminal records.

“Such exposure is unfair since the job-seeker might have committed the offence as an ignorant minor or may have been wrongly convicted and jailed for offences that he or she never committed, particularly in the absence of a good lawyer to defend him or her in court,”  the petition presented in the National Assembly by Speaker Justin Muturi. 

Muturi directed the matter to the departmental Committee on Administration and National Security.

“The petitioners view this requirement as discriminatory since most employers may use the Police Clearance Certificate as a basis for disqualifying job seekers having criminal records irrespective of their academic and other qualifications,” Muturi told the House on Wednesday.

According to the Speaker, the petitioners are convinced that employing persons with criminal records can demonstrate diversity, inclusion and social responsibility, and act as an avenue for their rehabilitation, thereby reducing the likelihood of repetition of offences.

Remorseful past

In addition, they assert that the portrayal of court case details on Police Clearance Certificates amounts to discrimination on the ground of conscience since it reminds job seekers of their remorseful past.

In this regard, they have provided reference to the US State of Indiana as well as the UK as examples of jurisdictions where certain misdemeanors and non-violent felonies are expunged from offenders’ records after several years.

“Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 227(1), this petition stands committed to the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs,” Speaker Muturi ruled.

“Committee is requested to consider the petition and report its findings to the House and to the petitioners in accordance with Standing Order 227(2).” He added. 

The law states that one cannot get a government job without a Certificate of Good Conduct. Private sector is gradually taking the cue, with most employers making it compulsory for job seekers to have what is  now called the Police Clearance Certificate — one among several documents that have become necessary to secure employment.

Job seekers are also required to provide the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) compliance  certificate — whether you stepped into college or not.

Then there is tax compliance certificate from the Kenya Revenue Authority, even if you have never drawn a salary in your life.

Clearance from the Credit Reference Bureau and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are the other documents required.

Certificates cost a jobless Kenyan upwards of Sh5,000 — and are renewable annually for Sh1,000, even for Helb — which even school dropouts seeking a gardening job at a parastatal have to obtain.

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