Report shows awful levels of torture in Kenya

July 29, 2011 1:19 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – Twenty five percent of Kenyans have experienced torture according to a new survey by the Independent Medico-Legal Unit.

The study shows that various forms of torture still continue despite the passage of the new Constitution a year ago, with explicit provisions on human rights.

According to the report only 25 percent of those who experienced torture actually reported it to authorities while the rest never reported the violation.

Regular Police lead the list of perpetrators of torture at 59 percent ahead of vigilante groups at nine percent, the administration police at seven percent, and council askaris at four percent, and chiefs.

According to the Executive director of IMLU Peter Kiama who presented the findings in Nairobi, torture is becoming more psychological than physical.

“Fifty nine percent of the torture is done by the regular police but again majority of those who report tortures (48 percent) do so to the police and only three percent are satisfied with the action taken.”

“The type of torture suffered ranges from harassment (53 percent), infliction of pain (48 percent) and a further 38 percent of respondents reported being forced to accept a crime they did not commit,” Mr Kiama said.

“There is a marked increase in the use of psychological torture as opposed to physical torture in the form of intimidation, threats to injury to the victims, forcing victims to make impossible choices, abuse and intimidation,” he said.

Of the 75 percent who did not report the violations, 42 percent are apathetic and believe that nothing will happen even if they report, 35 percent are afraid of reprisal from the police, and from the institution that has been accused of being the major perpetrator.

Mr Kiama emphasised the need for unrelenting vigilance, advocacy and reporting of torture by all Kenyans.

“The civil society, government, the media and the general public need to work together to create awareness on torture as well as stem the voice because we cannot overlook the large number of people who do not know where to report the violation.”

“Kenya lacks proper legislation that defines torture; IMLU, International Commission  of Jurists( ICJ Kenyan Chapter) are working together with other stakeholders to formulate the Torture Prevention Bill 2011,” he added.

Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino who attended the launch of the report, though admitting police were culpable of psychological torture, assured that the way of operation and the perception of the police will change with the ongoing reforms.

“I am sure we have tortured a lot of people by the look of a police officer… by the state of the police cells. But with the ongoing police reforms we will ensure that police provide facilities for people who get into those cells to be comfortable,” he said.

The research was conducted by the TNS RMS firm between May and June and had 1,230 respondents.

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