The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission public hearings in Nairobi ended yesterday, with unlawful detention dominating the session. Veteran journalist Paul Amina testified before presiding chair Berhanu Dinka, commissioners Ahmed Farah and Tecla Wanjala how police had brutally arrested him, following a legal news story he had penned down in the 1980s.
"I was summoned to Kilimani police station, and told the government wasn't happy with my writing. I was taken to Third Avenue Ngong Road, where a German journalist I knew was working from. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) officers, led by one Peter Kimundi, ransacked my house in Kahawa West. They took some of my work-related pictures, and my certificates, which were never returned. Mr Kimundi showed me a 65 page-long Amnesty International report and asked if I had seen it; I replied positively," Amina began.
"After three days, I was put in a white Land Rover, whose number plate was hidden, blindfolded, told to lie flat, and taken to the CID headquarters, then to Nyayo House, where I was locked up in a cell. Seven officers in civilian clothes ordered me to undress, left me naked, and took me to the 26th floor, where I was interrogated and ordered to write a 6-page report. I couldn't. I remember their faces. A beautiful lady served me tea while I was naked but I declined. I said I worked for Sunday Post, whose editor was Salim Lone, and they wanted to know why he had left Kenya to work for the United Nations in New York. I was tortured, and hit with a blunt metal object, my toe-nails came off," he recalled.
John Kennedy Wanyama recounted how he had been arrested in Bungoma in 1995, following claims that he was a member of the February 18 Movement, a proscribed pressure group. Gladys Atieno Aketch, a community health and children worker in Kangemi, recounted her life as a widow, displaced by Kenya's first ethnic clashes.