NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 – Five victims of police brutality have been awarded a total of Sh25 million as compensation.
The beneficiaries who suffered torture in 1982, 1995 and 2008, are Eliud Wefwafwa, Patrick Musungu, Samuel Wangila, Patson Kipchiris and Joshua Mark Okello.
High Court Judge John Mativo said it is the sacrosanct duty of the police to protect fundamental rights of citizens under their custody and prevent all forms of atrocities.
Justice Mativo, who awarded each of the complainants Sh5 million, said it was the primary duty of the courts to protect the basic rights of the people against adverse government actions that did not follow due process.
The judge upheld arguments by lawyer Gitau Mwara that the five men were entitled to transitional justice and that no monetary gains could substitute true restitution for them.
“I am persuaded that the petitioners proved to the required standard that they were tortured, treated to inhuman and degrading treatment and that their rights were violated by the police,” Justice Mativo said in his judgment.
“It is important to repeat that owing to the political climate of the day, it was impossible for victims of human rights abuses to seek court redress and this door was opened by the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution,” the judge observed.
He said the defunct Constitution prohibited police brutality and the vicious attacks visited upon innocent citizens was unjustified in a democratic society.
“There is no shadow of doubt that any treatment meted out to a citizen which causes pain, humiliation and mental trauma corrodes the concept of human dignity,” he said.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the repealed Constitution out rightly outlawed inhuman and degrading treatment and it is regrettable that security agents had degenerated to such a level. Such acts should only be consigned in the dustbin of our history never to resurface again,” Justice Mativo said.
He observed that the Attorney General opted against filing responses to the five petitions but only argued that they were time-barred, that the complainants had offered hearsay evidence and that they did not plead specific violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms.
“The only evidence on record is that tendered by the petitioners. Failure to adduce evidence means that the evidence adduced by the plaintiffs against the defence is uncontroverted and unchallenged,” he pointed out.