Kenya torture victims say ruling heroic

July 22, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 22 – Victims of the infamous Nyayo House torture chambers are calling for out-of-court settlements of pending cases for atrocities committed by the former regime.

The chairman of the National Network of Victims and Survivors (NNVS) Wafula Buke said this would reduce costs for all concerned parties.

“The government should save taxpayers money by going for an out of court settlement. Everybody acknowledges now that this was a great violation. The people whose rights were violated are known, they are fully documented by the papers and the special branch,” Mr Buke said. “They should just go for an out of court settlement and save the judiciary this protracted process.”

Mr Buke who termed Wednesday’s Sh40 million award for those who were tortured and detained at Nyayo House as insufficient, nonetheless said they appreciated that their names had been cleared from criminal records.

He is now advocating for an out-of-court settlement for other pending cases as a way to reduce the costs incurred by both parties. 

He called on the government to establish a monument at the Nyayo House torture chambers so that the events which took place there can never be repeated again.

“Nyayo House will remain a site of conscience. If this generation does not recognise it, another generation will. History cannot be deleted; it is what it is and you cannot wish it away as Bildad Kagia said once,” he stated.

“I think this government is capable in the spirit of reforms to recognise and institutionalise Nyayo House as a monument of shame.”

He recounted his ordeal during the period he was held at Nyayo House.

“I was arrested and taken to various police stations before I was later brought to Nyayo House where I was denied food.  Five people beat me up and I was hosed down with water from a huge pipe. I was also stripped naked and put in a cell full of water,” Mr Buke remembered.

Another torture victim Silvanus Odour explained that he was still feeling the physical effects of the illegal detention.

He said that he gets constant headaches and since his digestive system was affected, he only eats a limited amount of food.

Mr Oduor however expressed his willingness to forgive his tormentors but only if they own up.

“If I meet them I will tell them that I forgive them.  But you cannot forgive someone who has not owned up and requested you for forgiveness. Up to now, I am still affected because there is nothing which has gone my way since then,” he said. “Even the compensation that I got about Sh2.5 million is not enough. It is just a drop in the ocean.”

He further gave an account of the hardships experienced during his detention in the Nyayo chambers.

“I remember being taken to the 25th floor of Nyayo house. I was told to remove my clothes and do press ups till I got tired,” he recounted. “When I collapsed, they told me to lie down on my back and put my feet up at a 45-degree angle.”

The High Court on Wednesday awarded 21 victims of the infamous torture chambers Sh40 million as compensation for illegal detention.

High Court judge Hannhah Okwengu directed the State to pay the victims the said amount, saying their claims for torture, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution were justified.

The victims moved to court seeking to be compensated for the "inhumanity" they claim to have been subjected to during the rule of Daniel arap Moi.

There are 24 pending cases by detention and torture victims seeking justice.


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