ICJ Kenya’s quest for Access to Justice for Victims of Torture

 ICJ-Kenya with the support of the European Union has been involved in a project (Initiative of holistic rehabilitation and prevention of torture) between 2009 and 2012.  About 50 cases were identified that could benefit from impact litigation under the project. ICJ has continued to support 20 of those cases.

Recently, a judgment in favour of one of the torture victims was delivered on 14th December 2012 by Justice Mumbi Ngugi and below is a summary of the judgment

 The case arose out of the fatal shooting of the deceased victim a 24 year old third year building and Civil engineering student at the Kenya Polytechnic by police officers on 5th June 2008. An unfortunate incident, considering police officers are under a statutory duty to protect citizens against the contravention of their rights.

ICJ contracted an advocate who took the matter to court seeking compensation from the government of Kenya for; the violation of the deceased’s` right to life under the Constitution, for pain and suffering and the loss of expectation of life under the Law Reform Act.

The estate of the deceased presented evidence to the effect that the shooting was arbitrary and unlawful while the police contended that the incident was lawful as it was done in self-defense and in defense of the public against muggers.

The judge having weighed the evidence presented by both sides, made a determination of the case stating that the police were in gross contravention of the deceased’s` right to life. She  went on to say that police officers are required to refrain from using firearms unless there is looming danger to themselves or members of the public. Further She stated that although criminals have to be brought to book, the use of firearms cannot be justified in attempt to stop every crime, only serious crimes.

The court while acknowledging that no value can be placed on a life indicated that the state was in contravention of the deceased`s right to life. In view of its determination, the court made an award for compensation in favor of the estate of the deceased person for Kshs. 1,500,000 as a global compensation for the arbitrary killing.

ICJ Kenya will continue to support victim’s quest for justice in torture related offences and acknowledges the far-reaching effects of this judgement.