NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – A Mombasa High Court judge on Monday recommended the establishment of a protection trust fund for compensating victims of crime.
Martin Muya said in his experience as a judge, he had noted with concern that most victims of criminal cases do not receive compensation especially where accused persons have a poor financial base.
“It is my considered view that owing to the rampant violation of victims’ rights, a fund needs to be established soonest,” he urged.
A case in point was the murder of 14 year-old Kwekwe Mwandaza who was shot by police in Kwale in August 2014.
While Justice Muya found Veronica Gitahi and Constable Issa Mzee guilty of manslaughter and sentenced them to seven years imprisonment, he regretted that he could not order them to compensate her family.
“I find it would not be in the interest of justice to order that the accused persons personally compensate the victims. This would amount to the punishment of their families in the event that a custodial sentence is meted out on them.”
In his view, whereas the family of the deceased deserved compensation after the guilty verdict, the court could not compel the two police officers to pay for the damages due to their weak financial status.
“These are people of straw. In my estimation they lack the financial wherewithal of compensating the victims of this murder,” the judge considered.
“The first accused is a single mother with children at the university. The second accused is a young man with children at the primary level.
In his view, forcing them into compensation would be unjust.
“Justice must be tempered with mercy. A protection trust fund meant for compensation of victims is yet to be established.”
Muya however said his decision was not the tail end of seeking for compensation in the case.
“The victims of this murder are not without redress. They are at liberty to institute civil proceedings against the accused persons and the government as their employer. Therein lays proper and adequate compensation,” Muya advised.
The judge was also disturbed by the ‘rampant misuse of firearms by the police’ explaining that Mwandaza’s case was not unique.
In his view, there is need for security officers in the country to pay attention to the National Police Service Act on use of firearms to ensure they are responsibly used.