26 June 2012

Kenya: Police Torture Rampant - Report

Nairobi — Close to 60 percent of tortures in Kenya happen in the hands of police officers, according to a report by human rights group the Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU).

During celebrations to mark the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on Tuesday, IMLU Executive Director Peter Kiama expressed worries that the most tortured are the poor in the society.

"At 59 percent police were identified as the main perpetrator of torture. It's not the middle class who are suffering torture. It is the poor who do not have money to hire top lawyers, when they raise their heads, the head is knocked down; when you are poor you are vulnerable and when you are vulnerable you get tortured," he asserted.

According to Kiama, poverty is ranked at 48 percent as the main reason why people are tortured.

He said police vent their inhumane acts on the poor who do not have the power and finances to take legal action against them.

He pointed at loopholes in the Kenyan laws on torture complaining that they lacked a comprehensive framework of handling and punishing torture cases and urged the civil society and the government to explore ways in which justice can be delivered to victims of justice.

Victims who joined IMLU, the Judiciary, office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, United Nations among others in marking the day in Nairobi appealed to the government to protect Kenyans against police torture.

They narrated moving stories of how they suffered in the hands of the people who instead of protecting them, had turned out to be the perpetrators.

Joseph Njuguna says he was shot by a police officer and that when he later tried to record a statement and obtain a P3 form, he was arrested. With IMLU's assistance, Njuguna is now in the process of getting justice.

"A policeman shot me last year in Athi River. After long and many trips of trying to record a statement and get a P3 form, I was arrested and falsely accused," he narrated.

Another victim of torture who identified himself as Jeremiah said he was arrested by four policemen in Nairobi's Banana area, beaten up and locked up in the police cells.

This year, the police were caught on camera torturing a teenager in Turkana District, which added statistics to the number of victims who suffered torture in the hands of police.

Josephine's husband was shot by police during an incident in Nairobi's Kawangware area that left seven taxi drivers dead in 2010.

Though prosecutions had been done, Josephine said there is no excuse for the government to allow Kenyans to continue suffering or loosing their people through police brutality. Violence of people against others especially through mob justice and domestic violence are other forms of torture identified in the country apart from police torture.

The Day in Support of Victims of Torture is marked annually and this year it is focusing on rehabilitating and empowering victims of torture.

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