‘You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law’ is a common phrase you may have encountered while watching a film.
This statement, known as Miranda Rights, originated in America and dates back to 1966. Police cite the statement to inform an arrested person of their rights.
The sole purpose is to advise you against incriminating yourself during an arrest. Miranda Rights were adopted globally as a basic principle in protecting the rights of arrested persons.
A police officer attempts to arrest a bodaboda rider in a past operation.
Kenyans.co.ke The rights originate from a case filed before the US Supreme Court of Arizona, which revolved around Ernesto Miranda – a man accused of kidnapping and rape.
Miranda was arrested in 1963 by police officers after he was identified by a witness in the rape case. Police then proceeded to interrogate him and in the process, obtained statements from him.
Significantly, the statements were used as confessions that led to his conviction. Miranda was slapped with 20 years in jail.
However, questions emerged over his arrest with lawyers and activists blaming the police who failed to inform the suspect of his rights.
Consequently, Miranda’s lawyer then moved to the Supreme Court to appeal the decision.
In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that Miranda’s rights were violated as the police used evidence from an unlawful interrogation. His conviction was overruled.
The state of Arizona then charged him afresh – without the statements from their initial interrogation. Notably, he was still found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 30 years. Miranda passed away in 1976.
Miranda Rights in Kenya
Here in Kenya, the rights are enshrined in the 2010 Promulgated Constitution under Article 49 on the rights of arrested persons.
Under the article, police are required to inform an arrested person of the reason for arrest, the right to remain silent and the consequences of not remaining silent.
Police must also read Miranda rights in a language one understands.
“An arrested person has the right to remain silent and to communicate with an advocate and other persons whose assistance is necessary.
“Also has a right not to be compelled to make any confession or admission that could be used in evidence against the person,” reads the article in part.
Failure by the police to quote the phrase convinced some Kenyans to file cases against officers for violation of rights.
A photo of Ernesto Miranda.
Arizona Capitol News arrest suspect rape