Despite the fact that Kenya is a signatory to numerous international and regional human rights treaties and conventions, torture and ill-treatment is still rife in the Kenya and it happens especially in the context of security operations and other counter terrorism measures. Kenya recently passed several laws such as the Security Laws Amendment Act of 2014, which among other things prolonged the period of detention for a person suspected of terrorism from 90 days to 360 days. In this context, violent dispersals of peaceful demonstrations by citizens has in many occasions resulted in death and/or serious injuries.
On a positive note, Kenya enacted the Victims Protection Act in 2014, establishing a legislative framework for supporting victims of crime in general, including victims of torture during the court process and thereafter. The act provides for different forms of reparations that victims of torture and their families can access such as rehabilitation and compensation. It also created the National Victims Fund, which is to be used for supporting victims of torture. Unfortunately, the Fund is yet to be operationalised, leaving victims of torture and their families depending on the services of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for rehabilitation and legal support.
For the past decades, Kenya has been experiencing a very volatile situation with recurrent violence traceable to political disputes, ethnic animosity, unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, poor security systems and historical injustices. There are serious concerns about torture perpetrated by state agencies and by militia groups including sexual violence such as rape and physical attacks. This normally occurs during elections, during inter-communal conflicts over resources such as land and during security operations in places where communities are suspected by state agencies to be armed.
The post-election violence in 2007 and 2008, where 1300 persons died and up to 600,000 were internally displaced. All of this is happening in a context of crime and other human right violations such as enforced disappearance, incommunicado detention, kidnapping, extortions, blackmailing, extrajudicial executions and threats and intimidation. The lack of accountability for perpetrators and the lack of political will to address these issues only entrenches the culture of impunity. As a result, victims are left with no justice or reparation from the state despite strong support efforts by local NGOs.