Skip to main content


The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has asked a committee of the Senate to push for the amendment of the Section 226 of the Penal Code of laws of Kenya that slap criminal liability on individuals who try suicide.

The Commission argues that individuals who attempt to kill themselves have mental illness and they deserve to be taken for medical care instead of being arrested and charged in court of law.

In a submission to the Adhoc Committee on the Proliferation of Religious Organisations, which is investigating the Shakahola deaths, Professor Mariam Mutugi, a commissioner, said the decision to arrest and arraign in court survivors of Paul Mackenzie’s Goodnews International Church was erroneous.

“Science has confirmed that individuals who attempt to end their lives have mental illness,” Professor Mutugi told the Committee, which is chaired by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana.

“The same science has approved that a person of stable mind can never attempt to their lives. Rather than prosecute, people with suicidal tendencies should be taken to medical care facilities. They need help.” 

Professor Mutugi made the comments when she made the Commission’s presentation on the Shakahola deaths to the committee.

In its submission, the Commission points out that fundamental human rights and freedoms have been violated in the Shakahola tragedy which has claimed more than 300 lives so far.

The rights include the right to life, human dignity, social and economic rights and the rights of an arrested person.

The commission asked the senate to push the Cabinet Secretary of Interior Kithure Kindiki to sanction all security and national administration officers whose acts of commission and omission abetted and aided the Shakahola deaths

Other entities that appeared before the committee are the Law Society of Kenya and the Amnesty International both which supported the decision to repeal sections of the Kenyan law that criminalises suicidal tendencies.