Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997 - Kenya, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9fa4c.html [accessed 18 May 2013]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
At least three prisoners of conscience were held throughout the year following an unfair trial; one of them was released on bail in December in order to receive medical treatment abroad. At least 50 more were detained for periods of several hours or days, including human rights activists, journalists, members of opposition parties, students and a priest. There were reports of torture, including rape, and ill-treatment of prisoners. At least five people reportedly died in custody as a result of torture. Sentences of caning continued to be imposed. Prison conditions were harsh, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and scores of prisoners died during the year. The leader of a human rights organization was killed in suspicious circumstances. At least 63 people were sentenced to death and over 739 people were under sentence of death at the end of the year. There were no reports of executions. At least seven refugees were arbitrarily detained for nearly four weeks and over 900 were forcibly returned to Somalia. There were sporadic outbreaks of inter-ethnic clashes in which at least 15 people were killed (see Amnesty International Reports 1993 to 1995). Allegations persisted that some of the violence was instigated or tolerated by the government. By-election campaigns were marred by violence. In May, President Daniel arap Moi appointed a Standing Committee on Human Rights to investigate human rights violations within a limited mandate. The Committee's first report, submitted to the government in December, was not made public. In February, the charge against Mbuthi Gathenji, a lawyer, of publishing material "likely to cause fear and alarm" was dropped. The charge related to witness statements taken by police from his office which implicated senior government officials and others in ethnic violence in Narok district in 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1995). In June, the ban on the Centre for Law and Research International was lifted following an appeal in the High Court (see Amnesty International Report 1996). In August and September, respectively, the premises of Fotoform Printers and those of a newspaper it prints, The People, were fire bombed. Fotoform had previously been attacked in 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1994). In December, the Commissioner of Police was dismissed following a public outcry at the shooting by police of three unarmed students during demonstrations at Egerton and Kenyatta universities. Human rights and other non-governmental organizations, journalists and other government critics continued to be harassed by the authorities. Meetings organized by opposition politicians, church groups and women's organizations were disrupted by the police, sometimes violently. In February, a meeting of nearly 100 women organized by the League of Women Voters at Bondo Catholic Church was broken up by armed police who threatened them with violence if they did not leave. Three prisoners of conscience remained in prison following an unfair trial. They were Koigi wa Wamwere, a human rights activist, journalist and former member of parliament, his brother Charles Kuria Wamwere, and G.G. Njuguna Ngengi, who were sentenced to four years' imprisonment and six strokes of the cane for robbery in October 1995. In February, they were moved from solitary confinement. In July, their application for bail pending appeal was dismissed. The appeal had not been heard by the end of the year and defence lawyers were still awaiting a transcript of the proceedings of the trial (see Amnesty International Reports 1994 to 1996). In October and November, the three men were taken to hospital on separate occasions for tests. They were chained to the bed for 24 hours a day and Koigi wa Wamwere was guarded by dozens of prison warders. Friends and relatives were initially prevented from visiting him, but after a protest by members of the human rights group Release Political Prisoners (RPP) his mother was allowed to see him for 15 minutes. On 13 December Koigi wa Wamwere was released on bail in order to receive medical treatment abroad. At least 50 people were detained solely for their non-violent political activities. The majority were held for several hours or days before being released without charge, but at least 22 were held for two weeks before being released on bail. Their trial had not started by the end of the year. In March, Reverend Daniel Githu Ugunyu was arrested and beaten by police, apparently after being mistaken for a wanted criminal. In July, 21 members of the RPP, including three women, were detained for two weeks following an attempt to hold a three-day cultural event in memory of Karimi Nduthu, Secretary General of the RPP, who was murdered in suspicious circumstances in March. They were charged with holding an illegal meeting and possessing seditious documents and were released on bail. Their trial had not started by the end of the year. In September, the deputy mayor of Homa Bay and five others were detained for five hours for holding an illegal meeting. At least six journalists were arrested during the year and several others were reportedly beaten by police and members of the youth wing of the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) party. In January, Evans Kanini, the Daily Nation correspondent in Eldoret, was arrested and held for three days in connection with an article he had written on torture by police. The article included his own experience of torture in November 1995. In February, he was convicted of creating a disturbance and sentenced to one year's probation. In April, he was attacked and threatened with death by over 20 members of the KANU youth wing. In March, John Wanjala, another Daily Nation journalist, was reportedly beaten with whips and kicked for an hour by police, and suffered injuries to his chest and legs. In May, Njehu Gatabaki, a journalist, publisher and opposition member of parliament, was arrested and held for nine days after he failed, because of ill health, to attend court on a sedition charge dating from May 1995 (see Amnesty International Report 1996). Shortly after his release, he spent two weeks in hospital suffering from severe hypertension. The case of Father Charles Kamori and three seminarians, charged with incitement and possession of a banned publication, Inooro, had not come to court by end of the year (see Amnesty International Report 1996). Disturbances at universities over student loans and conditions resulted in arrests of students; dozens of students were reportedly beaten when police broke up meetings. In February, Suba Churchill Mechack, Chairman of the unregistered Kenya Universities Student Organization at Egerton University, was arrested and charged with trespassing on the university campus. He had been arrested on three occasions in 1995, reportedly tortured by the police and expelled from the university. Following the arrest of Suba Churchill Mechack and the suspension or expulsion of 11 others, students boycotted classes and over 200 police officers were drafted into the university campus. According to reports, student meetings were violently disrupted by the police. At least one female student at Egerton University was raped by the police and another, Doreen Kinoti, suffered serious back injuries after jumping out of a first-floor window of a student hall while attempting to escape. In March, Josephine Nyawira Ngengi, a member of the RPP and a prisoner of conscience, was released after being found not guilty of robbery with violence. She had been held for nearly two years following the repeated adjournment of her trial (see Amnesty International Reports 1995 and 1996). In July, she was arrested again, detained for two weeks with other members of the RPP and charged with them (see above). Geoffrey Kuria Kariuki (see previous Amnesty International Reports) remained on bail throughout the year. In May, Wang'ondu Kariuki, a prisoner of conscience, failed to have his case concerning the violation of his right to freedom of expression referred to a constitutional court. He appealed to the High Court against the decision. He had been charged with belonging to an illegal organization after being detained incommunicado for seven days and tortured (see Amnesty International Report 1996). Wang'ondu Kariuki remained on bail throughout the year. In June, Joseph Baraza Wekesa, aged 69, was released on appeal after his sentence was reduced to two years. He had been sentenced to six years' imprisonment in 1995 for membership of an illegal organization. He was one of at least 50 men arrested by police in Bungoma, Western Province, between late 1994 and mid-1995 and reportedly tortured at an unknown detention centre (see Amnesty International Report 1996). Torture and ill-treatment of both men and women continued to be reported throughout Kenya. In May, 20 alleged criminals were reportedly beaten by police in Muranga district, Central Province and one, Noah Njuguna Ndunga, died as a result of his injuries. In November, Solomon Muruli, a student leader, was reportedly arbitrarily detained by police and tortured. He was held for six days before being left unconscious in a church compound in Kiambu district, Central Province. Sentences of caning a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment continued to be imposed by the courts. In July, two men were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment and 13 strokes of the cane for rape. At least five people died in custody during the year, apparently as a result of torture. In May, Henry Mutua M'Aritho died, three days after his arrest by Administrative Policemen in Nyambene District. He was reportedly whipped, slapped, kicked and beaten on at least three separate occasions, and on one occasion his legs were burned. In July, Amodoi Achakar Anamilem died while in police custody in Lokichar, Turkana District. According to eye-witnesses, he was beaten in public, then at a disused building and also at the Lokichar Administration Police camp. He was beaten with his own stick and with gun butts, and received kicks and blows to all parts of his body. He had reportedly been arrested after being incorrectly identified as a robber when the police put pressure on the relatives of the real culprit. Following pressure from local human rights groups, the Attorney General ordered an investigation into the incident in August. However, at the end of the year the police officers allegedly responsible for Amodoi Achakar Anamilem's death were still on duty and no public inquiry had taken place. Conditions were harsh in many prisons, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. There were reports that scores of prisoners died, the majority from infectious diseases resulting from severe overcrowding and shortages of food, clean water and basic medication. A government committee set up to look into reducing the number of custodial sentences had not reported by the end of the year. In October, the President pardoned 4,288 prisoners, but by the end of the year the prison population had increased by over eight thousand to nearly 41,000. In March, Karimi Nduthu, Secretary General of the RPP, was killed in suspicious circumstances. According to eye-witnesses, the police investigating the incident searched the house, removing Karimi Nduthu's papers, computer, books and typewriter. Over 70 alleged criminals were killed by police officers during the year. Human rights groups criticized excessive use of force by the police, and the government's failure to investigate killings by police. Sixty-three people were sentenced to death during the year, including three men who were sentenced to death on appeal, two at the High Court and one at the Court of Appeal. A total of 739 people were on death row at the end of the year. No executions were reported. In March, seven recognized refugees and several others were detained beyond the legal limit and threatened with refoulement. Almost all those arrested were Ethiopian Oromos and members or supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front. They were eventually released in April, following national and international appeals. In July, over 900 Somali refugees were forcibly returned to Somalia by the Kenyan army six days after seeking asylum in Kenya. In March, the government sent Amnesty International a commentary on the organization's December 1995 report, Kenya: Torture compounded by the denial of medical care, which it accused of presenting only generalizations, of containing factual inaccuracies and of failing to acknowledge improvements in the protection of human rights in Kenya in recent years. Amnesty International continued to appeal to the government to stop the harassment and arrests of human rights activists, journalists, refugees and others. In April, the organization urged that the killing of Karimi Nduthu be investigated according to international standards, and sent a forensic pathologist to attend his autopsy. Amnesty International representatives visited Kenya twice in April and in September and met government officials, civil servants, members of the opposition parties, lawyers, doctors, religious and human rights groups to discuss ways of increasing human rights protection.